Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Psu Hails De's Return from Foot Injury Simmons Likely to Play More against Hoosiers after Cameo Last Week

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Psu Hails De's Return from Foot Injury Simmons Likely to Play More against Hoosiers after Cameo Last Week

Article excerpt

Michigan State's 21-17 victory a week ago at Beaver Stadium probably was Penn State's most disheartening defeat in several seasons.

That doesn't mean it was a total loss, however.

After all, running back Miles Sanders picked up 162 yards on the ground, including a career-best 78-yard dash.

Quarterback Trace McSorley had a subpar day but still overtook Christian Hackenberg as the Nittany Lions' all-time leader in passing yardage.

And defensive end Shane Simmons had one solo tackle and assisted on another.

OK, so Simmons' feat seems pretty modest - a dozen teammates were in on more tackles than he was - but it was a solid showing in his first appearance of the season.

He sat out the first five games with a foot injury and, by design, had limited playing time against the Spartans.

Simmons, a redshirt sophomore, figures to get at least a little more work when Penn State visits Indiana at 3:30 p.m. Saturday; coach James Franklin said the plan is to "gradually increase" the number of plays in which Simmons is involved to minimize the risk of aggravating his injury.

"We want to make sure we're taking things slow, so we don't have any setbacks," Franklin said.

That doesn't mean he isn't eager to have Simmons take on a regular workload. "I thought he did well with what he handled [against Michigan State]," Franklin said. "But we need for that to grow."

Simmons is listed behind sophomore Yetur Gross-Matos on the depth chart, and Gross-Matos still figures to get most of the playing time. He has been credited with 17 tackles, tying tackles Kevin Givens and Robert Windsor for the most by a defensive lineman, and should become even more of a force as he matures.

Nonetheless, Simmons' teammates believe he will have a significant impact as he settles into the lineup.

"Once he gets comfortable again and starts getting normal reps, I feel like Shane is going to make a big, big difference in our defense," cornerback Donovan Johnson said. …

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