Notre Dame OL Jarrett Patterson has foot sprain, ‘questionable’ for Ohio State game

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson suffered a foot sprain on Monday that will keep him out of the Irish lineup for the next 10 days, head coach Marcus Freeman announced Thursday. While Freeman wouldn’t put an exact date on Patterson’s return to game-ready action — ie a return to practice availability is not the same as a return to the starting lineup on gameday — a source indicated to The Athletic the 34-game starter is unlikely to play Sept. 3 at Ohio State.

“Really for him, once we do about a 10-day period of resting, he can go as he can tolerate the pain. Right now I’d say he’s questionable for Ohio State,” Freeman said. “But I know J-Patt and I know his mentality and again, as a head coach, I expect him probably to be out there because I know the type of competitor he is.”

Notre Dame lost its other returning captain last week when receiver Avery Davis tore his ACL, but a Patterson injury would be a different kind of blow. Without Davis, the Irish lost their most reliable receiver in a room short on options. In Patterson, the Irish would lose their most experienced offensive lineman who figured to help settle the entire unit, notably sophomore tackles Joe Alt and Blake Fisher. That’s on top of the leadership boost Patterson could have given sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner. Freeman had tasked the offensive and defensive lines with leading the program.

Patterson shifted to left guard from center after leading Notre Dame’s entire roster in snaps played last season. The fifth-year senior put off the NFL for another year to come back under a first-year head coach Freeman and to learn from Hiestand. After a torn pectoral muscle last winter sabotaged Patterson’s spring practice, the quickness with which he took to Hiestand in camp that morning felt like a promise of what was to come.

During the first periods of the first practice of training camp, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand watched Patterson and Alt work a combination block to the second level. Hiestand liked what he saw. He said as much aloud. Hiestand doesn’t withhold practice praise on purpose, but hitting his marks takes talent and technique.

Notre Dame may have to wait to find out what Hiestand’s first unit can accomplish at full strength.

If the Irish are going to take a big step forward along the offensive line in 2022, Patterson likely has to be a part of it, working between Alt at left tackle and Zeke Correll at center. Along with right guard Josh Lugg and right tackle Fisher, the starting lineup is talented but without a ton of experience, and Patterson’s eventual return would smooth over that fact.

Notre Dame has options in the interim. Fifth-year senior Andrew Kristofic started seven games at guard last season and was bumped to the second-team upon Patterson’s return for fall camp. Sophomore Rocco Spindler could be in play after appearing in just one game last season. If Notre Dame went with Kristofic alongside Alt, Fisher, Correll and Lugg, the group would bring 45 career starts into Columbus, 20 of which belong to Lugg.

“If (Patterson) is ready to go,” Freeman said. “He’s going to play.”

(Photo: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)

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