Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi is not unlike most coaches when confronted with questions about injuries. Whether it’s in-season (understandable) or in the spring (still scratching my head), Narduzzi prefers to keep such information in-house.
So, when he was asked to clear up the situations of tight end Chris Clark and cornerback Damar Hamlin, both of whom did not attend the early portion of Thursday’s practice, Narduzzi provided some clarity.
Trying to be as diplomatic as I could, I said, “A lot of people, fans, writers, are talking about Hamlin and Clark. Can you shed any light on those two guys.”
Narduzzi: “In what regards, being banged up?
Me: The I word, yeah.”
Narduzzi: “That’s good. You didn’t say injuries. Good. I like that. (Smiling, fist bump.) They’re both going to be fine. It’s spring ball. We’ve got no game to play tomorrow. Both are things they will be back from easily, easily.”
Follow up question from Chris Peak of Panther-Lair.com: “But not (able to practice) the rest of spring, though?”
Narduzzi: “Maybe, maybe.”
At that point, Narduzzi lost interest in that line of questioning, but he continued chatting with reporters for another two minutes.
In the end, we found out that whatever injuries Clark and Hamlin are dealing with (yes, he was short on specifics) aren’t especially serious, according to the coach. If those two won’t be back for any of the seven remaining practices this spring, Narduzzi gave the impression the injuries (sorry, the I word) are not serious enough to end their 2017 seasons.
Now, to be clear, it’s not fair to hold the coach to what he said because situations change, injuries don’t heal like some might expect and it’s a long way to August. For now, I’ll accept Narduzzi’s answer as a professional response to a professional question.
On a cold, dreary morning, Narduzzi took his team onto the outdoor grass practice fields for the first time this year as spring drills passed the halfway point.
“Great to get outside in sunny, Pittsburgh weather,” he said.
There will be a closed scrimmage Saturday at Heinz Field.
One other note: redshirt freshman Henry Miller has moved to safety from cornerback, which might be an indicator that corners Dane Jackson, Phillipie Motley and Maurice Ffrench are progressing nicely. And the more coaches use Ffrench on offense — Narduzzi wants him on both sides of the ball — the more reps will be available for Motley and Jackson.
Miller’s move to safety may be another indicator that Narduzzi doesn’t consider Hamlin’s injury to be serious.