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Penn State Football: Long Season Means A Lighter Load For Some Nittany Lions This Spring

by on March 22, 2017 2:00 PM

Penn State football is coming off of its longest season ever, a grind through months and months of games, practices and sessions in the weight room.

So it comes as no surprise that coach James Franklin and his staff are looking to keep many of the Nittany Lions' star players fresh and healthy even months prior to their first game of the season. As Penn State heads into the opening week of spring practice, some Nittany Lions will be working just a little bit less, but carrying the load just as much come the fall.

"I think our plan will be very similar to what it was last spring, and probably during training camp, as well," Franklin said earlier this week. "I think there's probably a number of guys like that. I think Saquon Barkley, I think Mike Gesicki, I think Jason Cabinda, I think Marcus Allen, those type of guys, we kind of know what we got with those guys."

The aim -- obviously -- is to keep those players healthy and fresh for as long as possible. That doesn't mean Barkley won't be taking part in drills and scrimmages, but there isn't much these players haven't seen and not much to be gained from 110% effort on a max workload each and every practice.

And it makes sense, certainly there is room for improvement with every player, but there is no reason for any of them to enter the season already tired and banged up. Barkley in particular carried the ball 272 times last year with even more snaps to his name, Gesicki often the lone tight end in rotation in 2016. Cabinda and Allen will continue to anchor the defense at positions not short on big hits and big bruises.

"Now don't get me wrong, they still need to get better, as well," Franklin added. "But you know, they will probably -- their practice model will be a little bit different maybe than other guys that are still kind of trying to earn jobs and fight for a more significant role on the team. But there's a number of guys. There's a number of guys like that."

Chances are you'll never notice the difference, but if Barkley and company have an extra spring in their step come Week 8, it might be simply because of the extra spring workouts they didn't have to go through.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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