TEMPE, Ariz. – The crutches are gone.
The boot is gone.
In their place are shorts, shoulder pads and a green no-contact jersey.
Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly returned to practice Thursday.
“Feeling good,” he said, speaking to the media for the first time since he hurt his right foot on Sept. 13 against the Colorado Buffaloes. “It feels good to be back out here and put some shoulder pads on and get things going.”
Kelly had been nothing more than a spectator and cheerleader for nearly the past four weeks, spending much of his time rehabbing either on a stationary bike or in the weight room, strengthening his core.
“Just right on schedule where I want to be at,” he said. “Our doctors are doing a great job. Just doing as much rehab as I possibly can to get things moving as fast as possible.”
Head coach Todd Graham again reiterated he expects Kelly to play when the Sun Devils play their next game, a home date against Stanford, on Oct. 18.
“It is possible,” Kelly said, “so I’ve got to just keep trusting what the trainers are telling me and keep preparing like I’m playing [next] week.”
The three-year starter did some light jogging and throwing, but was otherwise limited in ASU’s final practice before going into a three-day break with no game this week.
Kelly, however, said he plans on spending the bye at the facility, doing more rehab and watching film.
“I’m just doing as much as I can to stay in shape and get rolling,” he said.
Kelly hurt the foot after being tackled late in the third quarter at Colorado.
“I just got rolled up on,” he said. “It’s just one of those things that kind of happened. You watch it a million times and you still kind of don’t see what happened.”
In between quarters Kelly went into the locker room at Folsom Field to be examined. Doctors told him then he was out for the remainder of the game and returned to the sidelines on crutches and sporting a walking boot on the foot.
Kelly missed the next two games, ending his streak of 30 consecutive starts.
“It hurt when it happened,” he said of not playing against UCLA and USC,” so I’ve been trying to do as much as I can to lead and make sure this team stays on track.”
Kelly would not comment when asked if he was still in any pain, but did answer that the injury did not require surgery or a medical procedure, “so I’m just taking it day-by-day and see how I feel.”
In three games this season, Kelly, the most accurate passer in school history, has completed 42-of-68 throws for 625 yards and six touchdowns plus another 168 yards and two scores rushing.
He’s enjoyed, however, watching backup and good friend Mike Bercovici do his thing each of the past two weeks, especially last Saturday’s come-from-behind-Hail-Mary-victory at the Coliseum.
“It’s unbelievable for our team and for him how he handled himself in the game,” Kelly said. “He did a tremendous job of trusting his reads. What coach always talks about is owning the football and he did that and we won. As long as he keeps trusting his eyes and goes through his progressions, get it to our athletes. He’s a tremendous quarterback.”