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August 30, 2011

Persa talks Achilles

EVANSTON--In what will be his only media interview this week, Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa said his Achilles tendon was "close to a 10" on a scale of 1-10 and getting stronger every day.

"It feels good, I just got to keep working," said the senior star after Tuesday morning's two-plus hour practice. "Every day is a big step for me."

Persa shed no new light about his status for Saturday's season opener at Boston College. He says he will know more "in the next couple days," when doctors will evaluate the tendon that was ruptured on the last offensive play of the Wildcats' win over Iowa last Nov. 7.

Persa's confidence in the most talked about Achilles in Chicago may be growing, but he is still learning to trust it.

"I've just got to stop thinking about it," he said. "I think that's the biggest hurdle in any injury of this magnitude. Once you stop feeling pain in it, you go long stretches with no pain, you realize your body can do things your body didn't let you do before."

Persa still hasn't had a chance to try out his right leg in live, 11-on-11 scrimmages in practice. Today, he was held out of all such scrimmages, as he has been throughout fall camp.

In the last hour of practice, he was in for one series of 7-on-7, and he looked dynamite, completing all three of his passes. He spent the rest of practice watching backup Kain Colter direct the first-team offense.

Maybe the most interesting bit of news from the interview was that Persa is actually more confortable moving laterally than he is straight ahead.

"Lateral is fine, really easy," he said. "Straight ahead, putting strain on that Achilles, is the harder thing for me."

During Tuesday's practice, Persa again seemed to be walking with a limp. But, surprisingly, he seemed to jog without any noticeable hitch in his stride. His right calf still appears much skinnier than his left, the product of post-surgery atrophy.

Persa downplayed the importance of getting reps in practice for a veteran who has been running the Wildcat offense for five years. He says he's been studying Boston College's defense all summer and knows it inside-and-out.

"People who play the sport know that mental reps are as good as physical reps," he said. "I've done this a million times before. I just got to keep things fresh in my mind."

He says that getting Colter reps against the simulated Boston College defense is more important for the team than his getting reps.

"Kain has been doing a great job," said Persa. "The more he gets ready and is available, the better it is for us."


Log on to WildcatReport for much more on Tuesday's practice.



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