Purdue's Ralph Bolden could return soon

Purdue fans are closely monitoring the Robert Marve Watch, as they hope to see the senior quarterback return from his latest ACL injury.

As for the Ralph Bolden Watch, is anyone paying attention?

Bolden, a second-team All-Big Ten running back in 2009, has been somewhat of a forgotten man this year as he recovers from his latest knee injury, sustained in Purdue's 2011 regular-season finale at Indiana. Akeem Shavers has been Purdue's featured back through the first five games (58 carries, 240 rush yards, 3 TDs), while Akeem Hunt has been the secondary ball carrier (18 carries, 169 yards). The Boilers also have mixed in some others (Brandon Cottom, Raheem Mostert).

What about Bolden? Could he return soon, like for Saturday's Big Ten opener against Michigan?

"I'm not exactly sure," Purdue coach Danny Hope said Tuesday, "even though I think he's getting much closer to being ready to play, and I think in his mind he thinks he is. Again, it's his call as far as when he allows us to have the liberty of putting him in the game at our discretion. Just because he says he's ready doesn't mean we're going to put him in. But we're not going to put him in until he says he's ready, and he feels like he's ready now.

"So there's a chance he could play this Saturday, but again, situations will determine that and also the performance of some of the other running backs, that's going to determine some of it."

Anyone else confused?

Bolden made his position clear, telling The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier's Mike Carmin, "I guess they're waiting [for] me to say that I’m ready. I've been telling them I'm ready."

Hope's dilemma could be whether Bolden would merit playing time ahead of the other backs, especially if he's not 100 percent. Asked Tuesday if he'd support Bolden trying to get a sixth year of eligibility if he can't play this fall, Hope said, "I'd get on my knees and beg him, OK?"

But getting sixth years can be tricky, especially when players are quoted as saying they're ready to go. Purdue has had mixed results and doesn't want another Keith Smith situation on its hands.

Although the Boilers have some nice options in the backfield, using Bolden couldn't hurt. Although he might never be the back he was in 2009, when he racked up 935 rush yards and 11 touchdowns, he's an experienced option for a Purdue team looking to make a title run.