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JoePa not eyeing retirement; could coach in press box

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno has no plans to limp into retirement.

"I'm not going anywhere," Penn State's 79-year-old coach told his squad, according to a statement posted Wednesday on a team Web site. "I expect to be around a while and coaching through each of your careers."

Paterno addressed the team Tuesday, when he returned to practice for the first time since breaking a shinbone and two knee ligaments after a sideline collision with two players on Nov. 4 at Wisconsin. Paterno arrived in a wheelchair at the indoor practice facility, showing up while players were stretching and staying about 30 minutes.

"You might not see as much of me as I would like for a few weeks, but I'm still involved with your coaches and what you are doing," Paterno told the players, according to the statement.

Paterno, who turns 80 next month, is under contract another two seasons.

Later Wednesday, Paterno roamed the indoor practice field with his leg elevated in a souped-up golf cart, scribbling notes as he watched and summoning players for chats.

While his assistants think the boss might watch the Nittany Lions' regular-season finale against Michigan State from the press box on Saturday, team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli hasn't given Paterno the green light. A final decision will be made later this
week.

Paterno appears to be making progress, though. He tried to bend the knee Wednesday for the first time since his operation last week, displaying good flexibility, Sebastianelli said in a statement on the team site.

Surgeons inserted several screws into Paterno's left leg, which has been fitted with a temporary brace.

A Penn State win Saturday would likely lock up a berth in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 1.

"It was great to see him," linebacker Paul Posluszny said in a conference call before Wednesday's practice. "Things are a little different without him there."

One place Paterno won't be going is to his native New York, where he was scheduled to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Dec. 5. Doctors have ordered Paterno to stay off his feet for at least five more weeks, so Paterno's formal induction was moved to December 2007, Hall of Fame officials announced Wednesday.

Before missing last Saturday's game against Temple, Paterno had missed just one other contest in his 41 years as head coach -- in 1977, after his son David was involved in an accident.