SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Anthony McDonald's tweaked right knee is more serious than he originally thought and the junior inside linebacker, who was battling for a starting role alongside Manti Te'o, won't be available for Notre Dame's Sept. 4 season opener at home against Purdue.
That was bad news that came later in coach Brian Kelly's press conference Tuesday, which began on a much more optimistic note.
"We'll start off by saying we still plan on beating Purdue," Kelly said.
Kelly said starting tight end Kyle Rudolph and reserve safety Dan McCarthy will be back to a normal practice routine next week. Both juniors have been slowed by pulled hamstrings.
McDonald, who recorded 10 tackles in 12 games last season, hyperextended his knee last week when he was entangled in a pile during a goal-line drill. On Thursday, the 6-foot-2, 238-pounder, who is competing against sophomore Carlo Calabrese to make the first team, said he expected to be back on the field soon and that he wasn't in much pain at the time.
His absence opens the door for Calabrese (6-1, 240).
"We get a good day, bad day," Kelly said of Calabrese. "A lot of that is, A, inexperience and B, getting comfortable with what the role is at that particular position. Having said that, Carlo is in a position that every day that he gets a chance to compete and get reps, he puts himself in a better position moving forward."
Neither Calabrese nor classmate Dan Fox (6-3, 230), who will receive reps both inside and outside in the meantime, saw the field as freshmen.
Offensive linemen Dan Wenger and Matt Romine -- both recovering from concussions -- are nearing full clearance. Linemate Andrew Nuss (undisclosed) and nose guard Ian Williams (toe infection) are also on schedule to soon take part in practice in its entirety.
"We've been conservative in our treatment in terms of making sure we get them back," Kelly said. "I don't want to lose them two weeks into the season. "I think it has worked out pretty good. The expectations are they are going to be pretty much full-go when we get into game week."
Wes Morgan covers Notre Dame for ESPNChicago.com.