Practice observations, injury updates

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's coaches clinic Saturday made for a crowded audience inside the LaBar Practice Complex, as media members and more than 600 high school coaches were allowed to watch the Irish's 12th spring practice in its entirety.

John Goodman, Troy Niklas and Luke Massa were the latest players to be injured. Brian Kelly said afterward that Goodman had a right ankle sprain and probably could have practiced; the Irish were just being cautious. Niklas, meanwhile, had been battling flu-like symptoms.

The prognosis is less favorable for Massa, who suffered what Kelly said was an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament that would likely require surgery.

Prince Shembo, who had been suffering from turf toe, had surgery to insert a screw, which will likely shelve him for the next six weeks. Dan Fox was out once again because of the effects of a PCL injury suffered this spring.

Both DaVaris Daniels and Daniel Smith saw some time with the first-team receivers with Goodman out. The right side of the offensive line consisted of Braxston Cave, Mike Golic Jr. and Christian Lombard during tempo drills, with Golic, Nick Martin and Lombard facing off against the defense while scrimmaging. Cave does not yet know whether he will play in Saturday's spring game.

Kelly said that with the way things are playing out right now, Lombard has the inside track for the starting right tackle spot, with Golic and Martin likely battling it out for right guard.

The linemen had a little more riding on them Saturday, with the quarterbacks going live during scrimmaging. The biggest roars from the crowd, however, came during the rodeo drill and kick-coverage drill, with walk-on cornerback Joe Romano at the center of attention during two separate returns.

First, Romano got lit up by Justin Utupo, going to the sideline to recover for a few plays. Upon his return, Romano absorbed a vicious hit from Josh Atkinson, leaving the would-be tackler in his wake and firing up his teammates, who all gathered around him.

Following practice, Kelly clarified a comment that he made one night earlier during a speaking engagement at the Rockne Athletic Banquet in Chicago, as the rumor mill had swirled about the coach allegedly saying he was shooting for eight wins in 2012.

"No, that's not accurate," Kelly said. "What I said was that Notre Dame had not strung together three years in a row of eight wins or more, so if we win eight games next year or more, it will be the first time in 16 years [actually 19]. Thank you for getting that accurate.

"You shoot for eight wins around here, you won't be around very long. Believe me, trust me. My boss is up there, he already told me that. No 8-win seasons around here. We can build towards that, that's part of what we're doing is the building blocks of putting together a football program. We want consistency. The point of that whole statement was you need consistency, you need stability. Consistency is you can't have a 10-win season and then a three-win season, you've got to build consistency, and that's what we're all shooting for."