Air Force senior Ty Paffett watched a preseason scrimmage in mid-August in shorts and a t-shirt and then walked off the field gingerly – as if trying to avoid pain with each step.
So it was pretty incredible to see Paffett on Wednesday participating in his first contact practice of the 2008 season and at one point throwing an effective cut block. There he was, the guy who seemingly could barely walk a month ago, getting his torso parallel to the ground while running and then diving toward the legs of a scout team player to spring a running back. And then bouncing right back to his feet.
Take it from a guy with a bad back – it was pretty impressive for a guy who had two offseason back surgeries.
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun was cautious in his assessment of Paffett.
“He struggled,” Calhoun said. “It’s his first day back in contact. But you can tell he needs a lot of WD-40 on his knees and his joints and the whole bit. But it’s just good for him to be out here.”
For Paffett to return to game action soon – possibly by the Falcons’ next contest, Oct. 4 against service academy rival Navy – he’ll have to continue to work hard in practice. And show his back can take the contact he absorbed Wednesday.
“You want to see just physically, and it’s not just today, but when he wakes up in the morning, if he can say ‘I’m fine,’ and ‘I can go,’” Calhoun said. “If he does that, then mentally he’ll be better off too.”
We’ll know a lot more by the middle of next week. But today was a big first step. …
In other injury news, senior tight end Travis Dekker, who fractured his right ankle in the preseason, worked out on his own Wednesday. According to Calhoun, a fitted brace for Dekker’s injured ankle will arrive at the academy tomorrow morning. That should help him. …
Has either of the Falcons’ freshman quarterbacks (Tim Jefferson or Asher Clark) progressed to the point where Calhoun might use him for a few series in a game? I asked Calhoun Wednesday.
“I don’t know if they’re there yet,” Calhoun said. “They’re both progressing, but they aren’t quite to that point. … Without rushing them, I want to get them to a spot where they’re able to do that, too. At least one of them.”