After missing the last two games against Navy and Air Force, Irish nose guard Louis Nix is making strides to returning to the field for Saturday's game against Pittsburgh--ND coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday.
Nix will practice on Tuesday and Kelly says he's hopefully Big Lou will be able to play a role this weekend.
"He's worked really hard," Kelly said of Nix. :He's been in at 7 in the morning. That's really early. He's worked really hard to stay fit. He's really committed to try and give everything he can."
Nix continues to battle knee tendinitis.
"The tendinitis is real," Kelly said when asked about how much pain Nix has been in. " it will require the same surgery Greg Bryant had. It will require attention. After the USC game, he was in real pain."
For now, it sounds like Nix will look to play through the pain and contribute on a defensive unit that has been plagued by injuries. Defensive end Sheldon Day should play some this weekend too after re-aggratvating his ankle injury against Navy.
Notre Dame has rarely been able to have Nix, Day and Stephon Tuitt on the field at the same time this season even though the three are Notre Dame's starting front.
"This weekend we are looking to get those three on the field at the same time. At what level, at what health… who knows," Kelly said.
Jarron Jones, Issac Rochell, and Justin Utopo will be counted on the defensive line to provide depth with Kona Schwenke out this weekend with a high ankle sprain.
Safety Austin Collinsworth will not practice Tuesday. Collinsworth had an MRI on his neck on Monday that came up clean but is still having some neck issues and soreness that they are working on.
Offensive lineman Chris Watt sat out the Navy game after tearing his PCL against Air Force. Watt just didn't feel comfortable during warmups Saturday. The PCL causes movement in the knee that requires some time for an athlete to get used to before he's able to trust doing everything he needs to do in a game.
Kelly is optimistic, however Watt will be available vs Pitt.
"With a full week of practice, we feel he can make the accommodations he needs to make," Kelly said.
A lot of the injuries compiled by the Irish were a results of facing chops blocks two weeks in a row due to playing service academies, Kelly says.
Pitt is coming off battles with the option too. The Panthers have lost two games in a row but Kelly knows they will be a major challenge. History has shown that--just look at last year's game where the Irish needed overtime to overcome a 20-6 deficit to escape with a win to keep ND's undefeated season alive.
"They don't seem to like Notre Dame very much and they wanna beat Notre Dame," Kelly says. "It's one of those games where you know you're going to go in and it's going to be a fight."
Kickoff Saturday night in Pittsburgh is set for 8pm.