April 11, 2008

Costa progressing quickly

The Oregon Ducks began spring drills knowing they had an open quarterback position. Despite promising spring play thus far by Justin Roper, Cody Kempt, Darron Thomas and Chris Harper, the depth chart won't be settled until fall. That's when sophomore quarterback Nathan Costa will be cleared for full contact.

Oregon offensive coordinator Chip Kelly lost a Heisman front-runner when Dennis Dixon went down with a season-ending knee injury, and though helping coach another top quarterback through rehabilitation, Kelly has plenty to look forward to in Nathan Costa's future.

"I'm really excited about Nathan. He's three and a half months removed from surgery and even though he's really full-go, we're keeping him out of contact, same with Jeremiah. We just don't want to risk it."

Without participating in full speed team sessions, Costa is certainly missing some repetitions that would be helpful. On the other hand, he is able to focus on other aspects of the game which will help him down the road. Coach Kelly has been extremely pleased with Costa's progress this spring.

"I'm really impressed with how he grasps things. The tough thing with Nate is that the first two days of practice he was involved in everything. Once we got the pads on, he can really only do seven-on-seven. Anything where there is a chance somebody could fall on him we've kept him out of. He's going to miss some valuable repetitions with that, but I'm pleased with where he is physically and how he's throwing the ball, it's just a matter of getting him enough reps so he's comfortable."

There is no question that Kelly thinks Costa is capable of playing now if required.

"Nate is as tough a kid as there comes. If we were to play a game tomorrow I'm guessing he could be cleared, but there is absolutely no reason to rush it. We're opening on the 30th of August so obviously it's the smart thing for us to do."

Costa himself agreed with Coach Kelly's assessment.

"My knee is feeling really good. I just want to take the advice of the doctors and stay out of contact."

Kelly had good news to report on Costa's prognosis.

"He's been excited because there's been no swelling and no repercussions. There hasn't been anything where he's thought 'oh, I've pushed it to hard the day before'. It's really a credit to him and our treatment center how these kids are coming back from injury. Nate has been diligent with his rehabilitation and has been there every day. He's got a great work ethic and everything he's putting into it he's getting out of it."

Costa himself is quite happy with the progress of his rehabilitation, though certainly would be happier fully participating.

"Without being able to participate in contact I do a lot more watching than I want to. I am really happy with how my knee is healing so it's worth it."

It will be worth it to Duck fans when Nathan Costa takes the field August 30th.

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