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Football: Aldridge ‘nicked up,’ will practice

Kate Gales | Thursday, March 30, 2006

Notre Dame running back James Aldridge is participating in spring practices despite being “nicked up,” Irish head coach Charlie Weis said after the team’s fifth practice of the spring Wednesday.

“I’ve kind of held him out a little bit,” Weis said. “It’s like one of those things where you get a guy coming in here and he’s a little sore … I just want to be precautionary because sometimes when a guy gets something you think its nothing, you have to make sure it’s nothing before you put him back out there. I’m going to err on the side of caution in the spring.”

Aldridge, who finished with 3,808 all-purpose yards at Merrillville High School in Crown Point, Ind., enrolled early to gain an edge in spring practice.

“I like a lot of what I see [from Aldridge],” Weis said. “He’s big, powerful and he has very good quickness for a guy his size, which fires me up. … Athletically it’s tough not to like what you see from him.”

Aldridge is competing for playing time at running back with rising junior Darius Walker and rising senior Travis Thomas – both of whom have two years of eligibility remaining. In his career, Walker has rushed for 1,982 yards and 16 touchdowns, while Thomas has 273 yards and five touchdowns.

“[Aldridge is] going to have to fight an uphill battle because this is going to be great competition at this running back position,” Weis said. “I mean you’ve got your two guys to handle the position are back and back for another year after that, so he’s got his work cut out for him.”

Weis has also used Aldridge as a kick returner in spring practice.

Kicking team practices outdoors

Notre Dame’s practice on Cartier Field Wednesday was it’s first outdoor workout of the spring. Weis said he waited to take the team outside until the grass was long enough to avoid injuries.

Weis said the outdoor practice was important for practicing kickoff returns, an area of concern he addressed at the team’s spring media day March 21.

“It’s tough to get the full field going and the height of the ball and the timing of the [blocking] wedge,” Weis said.

Weis said he focused on the wedge in addition to auditioning new kickoff returners.

“I’m looking for guys that can run fast and are new to the position,” he said.

At Wednesday’s practice, early-enrollee receiver George West and rising junior cornerback Terrail Lambert returned kicks.