TE Carter nursing injury, status up in air

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Kyle Carter walked off the practice field Wednesday after team stretches, and Bill O'Brien said a final determination of his status wouldn't come until later in the week.

"We'll have to monitor him at the end of the week and see how he can cut and do certain things, to determine whether he can play or not," O'Brien said.

It wasn't clear whether Carter could participate in any contact drills because the practice was open for just 30 minutes. Still, the redshirt freshman was listed as "probable" on the injury report following Saturday's injury, and players said he alternated between the training room and practice the last two days.

He favored his left side Wednesday, and his left ankle was wrapped with white tape. Fully recovered or not, wideout Allen Robinson said he didn't expect to see his teammate sitting on the sidelines against Purdue.

"Honestly, I don't think that's going to be the case," Robinson said. "But if that's going to be the case, we definitely have tight ends to step up. I'm definitely confident that, if that were to happen, we'd have someone step in."

Carter is the only true F-tight end on the roster, but O'Brien said his other tight ends are versatile enough to take over. Matt Lehman seems like the best fit -- Matt McGloin said he "has a great set of hands" -- although true freshman Jesse James could also see more time.

The other tight end, Garry Gilliam, is more of a blocker and has fewer catches (5) than Shawney Kersey (6), who left the team in mid-September.

"In an offense where tight ends play a major role in how we perform on the field, [Carter] has really stepped up and kind of been that go-to guy," McGloin said. "He's got one of the best hands on the team. He's a very instinctual player, and he has a knack for getting open."

Carter has been a crucial cog in Penn State's offense this season. He's become McGloin's favorite target in the last two conference games, and he's second on the team in receptions (35). If his left-ankle injury lingers, Carter's workload would likely fall to Lehman and wideout Brandon Moseby-Felder -- and could have a big impact on this offense.

Carter might boast the best set of hands on the team, and no one -- on average -- catches the ball farther downfield than the rookie. Even Robinson, a Biletnikoff candidate, averages a half-yard less a reception.

"I know he really wants to play, so he's working hard to get back on the field," O"Brien added.