Some good news for Notre Dame on the injury front: Center Nick Martin, who tore his MCL Nov. 23 against BYU, is "well ahead of schedule" in his recovery, coach Brian Kelly said Friday.
Martin started 11 games for Notre Dame in 2013 and was initially given a recovery timetable of six months. It would seem unlikely he'd be a full participant in spring practice, meaning Matt Hegarty likely will get the lion's share of reps in March and April. But Kelly offered some encouraging words about the recovery of Martin, as well as that of linebacker Ben Councell, who tore his ACL Nov. 2 against Navy.
"If they walked through here right now, you would not know they had surgery," Kelly said.
Other injury updates:
-- Inside linebacker Jarrett Grace's recovery from a fractured fibula and tibia (suffered Oct. 5; he broke his leg in four places) has been relatively slow, though the expectation has always been the junior wouldn't participate in spring practice. "That is a little bit slower in developing, but he's making progress there with what was a very complicated fracture," Kelly said.
-- Safety Nicky Baratti, who underwent two shoulder surgeries in 2013, has been cleared for contact but may be held out of spring practice regardless. Kelly hinted Baratti most likely will not take contact until the beginning of fall camp this August. "If we're playing a football game in April, he's cleared to play," Kelly said. "Whether we put him in, in full contact because of a second surgery, I think that's still questionable."
-- Defensive lineman Tony Springmann, who suffered a torn ACL in August then had an infection in his surgically-repaired knee, is "moving around quite well," Kelly said. His status for spring practice is yet to be determined, but he's a key cog on the 2014 defensive line and at least should be ready for fall camp.
-- Defensive end Chase Hounshell, who's maybe had the worst injury luck of anyone on Notre Dame in the last few years, is cleared for spring practice. Kelly said Notre Dame "could have done some things with him" toward the end of 2013 but exercised caution given his multiple shoulder surgeries.
-- Interior offensive lineman John Montelus (shoulder) will be ready for spring practice, too, and probably could've taken some contact late in 2013.
-- Outside linebacker Doug Randolph (shoulder) is set for spring practice as well.
-- Cornerback Devin Butler underwent a procedure to "clean some things up" and should be fine, Kelly said. Of more concern, at least for Kelly: Butler initially tweeted he would have surgery, a violation of team information rules Kelly alluded to during his press conference Friday.