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Irish players are healing in time for Sun Bowl

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Kickoff: Notre Dame vs. Miami, 2:15 p.m. Dec. 31

Bowl: 77th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas

TV: CBS

Williams, Riddick have been busy in rehab since getting hurt in October.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 10:27 am

SOUTH BEND — December is typically when football players can let the injuries they have received during the season heal.

Many of Notre Dame's injuries occurred early enough in the season that those players are now not only healed, but getting back onto the practice field.

“It's good to see Ian Williams back in a live situation,” Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said after a recent practice.

Williams played in Notre Dame's initial eight games this season before injuring the medial collateral ligament in his left leg during a 35-17 loss to Navy in October.

Before the injury, the senior nose guard had accumulated 37 total tackles, including 3 1/2 for a loss and 1 1/2 sacks.

Williams is expected to see considerable action against Miami in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 31.

Though the Irish won't be able to use injured offensive starters Dayne Crist (quarterback), Kyle Rudolph (tight end) and Armando Allen (running back), they will have one valuable weapon return to that side of the ball.

“(It is) very good to see Theo Riddick back to where we remember him before he got injured,” Kelly said.

The sophomore was in his first season of playing the wide receiver position and had made a significant contribution before being hurt in the Western Michigan game in mid-October. In seven games, Riddick has caught 38 passes for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns.

Riddick suffered a severely sprained ankle against Western Michigan, but was able to return in a limited role in Notre Dame's final regular-season game at USC.

“When we played (Riddick) against USC, we played him sparingly because he hadn't shown that burst (of speed) yet,” Kelly said. “He was able to run out and do the things necessary to get out on the field.”

In recent workouts, Kelly has seen Riddick able to return to deploying his greatest strength, which is his speed.

“He's back to that second-level speed,” Kelly said. “When he hits the edge of the defense, he's gone.”

Though Riddick hasn't been on the field much since being injured in October, he has been busy in the rehabilitation process.

“He got a lot of work (in),” Kelly said. “I think the weight training, the conditioning (and) he's been on the Woodway (treadmill). That's our way of really getting him on the treadmill and building strength back in that ankle. It's about force that you exert against the ground. He's able to get that force exerted that gives him that burst.”