Middle linebacker was supposed to be the area of heavy competition this fall camp for Notre Dame, but the most intriguing battle might be shaping up at the outside "dog" linebacker spot.
Irish coach Brian Kelly said after Thursday's practice that senior Kerry Neal had moved ahead as the starter there. Senior Brian Smith had entered camp as the starter, but was passed up by Steve Filer in the past week. Kelly stressed that the competition was ongoing.
Several players missed practice with minor injuries. The biggest name was tight end Kyle Rudolph, who continues to nurse a sore hamstring. Kelly said Rudolph would be shut down through the weekend. But he and others like Ian Williams (toe) and Anthony McDonald (hyperextended leg) should be healthy in time for the opener against Purdue, Kelly said.
Before practice, legendary former Irish coach Ara Parseghian spoke to the team.
"It was really cool to be on the field and have him come out and really take control of the huddle," Kelly said. "This isn't a guy who doesn't have an aura about him. He really took control of the huddle. He talked about mental toughness and physical toughness and what it takes to win."