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Dan Persa says he's close to returning

Dan Persa hopes to play this week when Northwestern takes on Army. But if the Northwestern quarterback sits out his third straight game, he's vowing that it will be the last time that happens.

Persa, who continues his recovery from last year's torn Achilles' tendon, dressed for last week's Eastern Illinois game but did not play. After the Army game, the Wildcats have a bye week before opening Big Ten action against Illinois Oct. 1.

"I think I'll be 100 percent ready by Illinois," he told reporters on Tuesday.

Persa has been working out at practice and says he visits doctors every three days, which is "pretty awful."

"I kind of feel like I'm ready to play; it's just them telling me not to," he said. "I understand why they're trying to be safe about it. In the long run, I'd rather miss two or three games then play two and then miss the season."

Persa said doctors want to see him show more strength in his leg. But he also says he feels good at practice, and he's itching to get back on the field.

"I feel like I'm so close, I can reach out and touch it," he said.

Luckily for Northwestern, Kain Colter has done an excellent job in Persa's place. He led the Wildcats to a road victory at Boston College in the opener, followed by the easy win over an FCS foe in Week 2. Colter leads the team in rushing with 180 yards and four touchdowns, and he has completed 73 percent of his passes.

"It takes a lot of pressure off me," Persa said of Colter's play. "I don't have to hurry back because we're winning games."

Persa's Heisman Trophy campaign never got off the ground because of his health, and his billboards in the Chicago area have come down. But all that matters to him right now is getting back onto the field. If it's not this week, then the Wildcats can hope he's back to full strength just in time for Big Ten season.