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Penn State Vs. Alabama: Joe Paterno Says Curtis Drake "Getting Close"

When wide receiver Curtis Drake suffered a leg injury in spring practice, many feared he'd be lost for the 2011 season, just as he was for the 2010 season with a similar injury. Throughout the summer, however, Drake expressed optimism that he'd be back in time for the season and coach Joe Paterno thinks there's a chance he could be back soon.

"He's getting very close to where I think everybody will be comfortable that we can put him in there, let him play a lot of football," Paterno said at his weekly news conference on Tuesday "He's certainly got the physical ability to do it."

Drake was seen running and catching patterns down on the field Saturday before the Nittany Lions' game against Indiana State at Beaver Stadium. Paterno said they'll continue to run him this week and evaluate his status at the end of the week to see if he has a shot to go against Alabama.

The redshirt sophomore has just eight career receptions for 98 yards. However, as a former high school quarterback, he brings great versatility to the offense, and many think Penn State could deploy some wildcat packages with him back in the fold. That's something that could throw the Crimson TIde off guard on Saturday, so many will be watching Drake's status intensely.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.