Practice notebook: Zwinak at No. 1

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
7:05
PM ET
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Zach Zwinak, you're up.

With Bill Belton limited because of a sprained left ankle -- seemingly wrapped with a roll of tape -- and Derek Day nursing a shoulder injury, Penn State reached down deep on the depth chart for Wednesday evening's practice.

A fourth-string tailback in April, Zwinak worked with the starters during a 30-minute practice session open to the media. Zwinak has just six career carries for nine yards.

Belton and Day were both dressed but did not participate in contact drills, and it's not yet clear whether they'll play in Saturday's game against Navy. If they can't go, it now appears Zwinak will be the No. 1 -- and fullback Michael Zordich will back him up.

Zordich practiced with the second-string, while Curtis Dukes watched from the sideline. Even with the injuries, it seems as if the 245-pound Dukes still can't climb into the starting spot -- despite leading all returning rushers with 237 yards and a 5.8 yard-per-carry average.

Shawney Kersey's departure: Without Kersey, true freshman Trevor Williams and redshirt junior Brandon Moseby-Felder split time at the outside role.

Williams is listed ahead of Moseby-Felder on the depth chart, but Moseby-Felder brings some much-needed experience to the receiving corps. Neither really differentiated himself during the 30 minutes open to the media -- but Williams will likely get the nod.

New look at TE: For the second straight week, former quarterback Paul Jones did not wear a red shirt at practice. Instead, he caught balls from Matt McGloin and new No. 2 quarterback Steven Bench.

He was split wide on the media's way out and dropped one pass about 15 yards downfield. He clapped his hands, let an expletive fly and then jogged back to the huddle.

Offensive line: Left tackle Donovan Smith was not in pads and did not practice Wednesday.

His absence in parts of the Ohio game was easy to see, and he will be missed if he cannot return in time. He was not listed on the injury report, but Bill O'Brien said Tuesday Smith has some "bumps and bruises."

Mike Farrell replaced him at left tackle, and Adam Gress started on the right.

Kickin' Ficken: Sam Ficken opened the practice by attempting five field goals between 30 and 40 yards -- and he made them all.

Yes, the same kicker who made just 1-for-5 against the Cavaliers was perfect at practice. But, as O'Brien said Tuesday, consistency is the key with Ficken.

Other injuries: Defensive end Pete Massaro and linebacker Nyeem Wartman were also not in pads.

Massaro said he's battling a shoulder injury -- in addition to a previously torn ACL that's still healing -- while Wartman has issues with his knee. Deion Barnes becomes the unquestioned starter with Massaro's injury.

Tight ends: Kyle Carter is obviously the f-tight end but Matt Lehman practiced as the starter at the y-tight end spot, ahead of Garry Gilliam.

Lehman's seen more time since a touchdown grab Week 1, and the Lions practiced one play with Carter, Lehman and Jones lined up -- definitely not something that was expected in the preseason.

Scouting report: Several NFL scouts were in attendance Wednesday, and most appeared to be watching defense.

The Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers were among the teams represented.

Josh Moyer | email

Penn State/Big Ten reporter

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