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Kelly dispels Lynch rumors

Notre Dame defensive phenom Aaron Lynch plans to remain Notre Dame’s defensive phenom. Irish coach Brian Kelly confirmed Wednesday that Lynch missed practice for personal reasons but would return to campus following the Easter holiday.

Irish sophomore Aaron Lynch missed practice Wednesday for personal reasons.

Kelly said Lynch attended practice Monday before flying to Cleveland where his mother currently lives.He said Lynch was currently in Florida, but Lynch’s mother relayed via Twitter that her son was still with her in Ohio Wednesday afternoon. The sophomore is expected to be back on campus next Monday night.

“We excused him from practice today. He needed some time to straighten out some personal matters at home,” he said. “There were rumors that he quit or transferred or went pro. All that is not true. So we can end that right now.”

Defensive line positions battles kept humming along during Wednesday’s practice in Lynch’s absence. Early enrollee Sheldon Day got a chance to run with the first-team group along with sophomore Stephon Tuit and nose guard Kona Schwenke, who is trying to stake a claim to the middle of the line after moving from defensive end this spring. Kelly did not say Louis Nix, the incumbent starter at nose guard, has lost his job but he wants the 326-pounder to bring a more consistent effort to practice each day.

“We’re challenging our players to be consistent,” Kelly said. “I think we all know Lou on Saturday is a great player. I love Lou. I love the way he competes on Saturday. We want him to compete every single day.”

A hunt for consistency has been a constant theme during the first nine practices of the spring. Kelly said he sees a lot of players that have the athletic ability to be major contributors and now have to prove they can be reliable at all times on the field.

Slaughter slides to corner
Irish safety Jamoris Slaughter ran drills with the cornerbacks during Wednesday’s practice. Slaughter’s versatility and exhaustive knowledge of the defense will likely make him a jack-of-all-trades in the back end of the Irish defense this season.

Kelly said giving the senior a look at cornerback was something they had planned all along. The staff plans to use him more as a safety valve in case one of the starting corners gets injured rather than move him there permanently.

“We want to do a little cross-training with Jamoris, which fits exactly what we thought we would do, just in case we get into a bind or emergency,” Kelly said.

He said the coaches were pleased with how the rest of the cornerbacks were developing in practice, and they expect to be able to find two guys who can keep the play in front of them on a regular basis.

- Inside linebacker Dan Fox sprained his posterior cruciate ligament and had his right leg immobilized at practice Wednesday morning. The injury won’t need any surgery to repair and he is expected to be back in pads soon. He joined outside linebacker Prince Shembo on the sidelines. Shembo still had his left foot in a walking boot while battling turf toe.

- Senior Braxston Cave suited up in full pads Wednesday. He has graduated from running drills against air to working with tackling dummies and bags. Cave is recovering from an off-season foot surgery.

- Kelly said after two full weeks on the field with his three new coaches — Harry Hiestand, Scott Booker and Bob Elliott — he is pleased with the amount on teaching and excitement they bring to the field each day.

“I love the energy out there. I love what I’m hearing,” he said. “For me it’s exactly what I need to hear.”

- Roughly two dozen current Notre Dame players stopped by the Irish Pro Day yesterday to take in the scene and cheer on their former teammates. Kelly said watching the drills gave his current players a gauge of what they need to accomplish to get to the next level. He expects that crowd of scouts and coaches to grow if Notre Dame plays better on Saturdays.

“We’ll have twice as many people there when you win 12 games. Winning gets everybody’s attention.”

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