Nebraska senior quarterback Taylor Martinez practiced in full pads Tuesday, another apparent step toward a return to the playing field.
He evidently has some steps left to take before he's full-go for a game. His availability for Saturday's game at Minnesota likely will be a game-time decision, said Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck.
"He's doing what he can do right now," the coach said after Tuesday's practice. "Just easing him back into things."
Martinez, a starter since his freshman season, has missed the past three games and essentially five weeks of practice with a turf toe injury. He began practicing again with the offense Sunday. The Huskers have Mondays off from practice.
"He's doing whatever he can do," Beck said. "If he needs a break, we give him a break. If he needs to sit out a period, we sit him out a period. It's a day-to-day, period-to-period deal."
As for the Minnesota game, Beck said, "It'll probably be a game-time-type deal to see where he's at, to be honest with you. It's just a process right now."
Beck didn't seem concerned about how the uncertainty regarding Martinez might affect the offense's game preparation. Redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong and fifth-year senior Ron Kellogg III have shared playing and practice time in Martinez's absence.
"I think some of the things we do offensively, our guys can do regardless of who's at quarterback," the coach said, adding, "We run all the same stuff pretty much with all of (the quarterbacks)."
Beck was asked if Armstrong has earned a chance to play whether Martinez starts or not.
"I think they both have," Beck said, referring to Kellogg. "But you can only play one at a time. We'll see. We'll kind of cross that bridge as we get there. It's so early in the week to tell right now, it really is.
"It's hard to tell where (Martinez) is going to be on Thursday, how he manages, what we're putting in or not putting in. … We're going to play the best guy, and the healthiest guy, and the guy who's going to help us win."
Martinez still is shaking off some rust, Beck acknowledged.
"But he still sees things well," the coach said. "He's a veteran player. He sees defenses well and knows where he needs to go with the ball. Just getting the cobwebs out a little bit."
Martinez gets some good-natured teasing from teammates.
"They're razzing him a little bit about coming back — the new guy, and all that type of stuff," Beck said. "I think if all things hold true, and he gets healthy and feels like he's able to go, I think he'll be excited to try to be out there and play if he can. If he can't, he won't."
* SWITCH-HITTING: Mike Moudy remains the leading candidate to start at right guard in place of standout senior Spencer Long, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Oct. 12 at Purdue.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Moudy, a junior, was playing significant minutes at left guard before Long's injury. How difficult is the switch to the right side?
"Maybe to put it in terms people might understand, it's like a switch-hitter in baseball," Beck said. "They can do it. But they're probably better on one side than the other. That's kind of how he is."
* KONDOLO SITUATION: Beck didn't rule out the possibility of pulling junior college transfer Chongo Kondolo out of a redshirt season to help with depth at offensive guard. The coaches may decide on Kondolo's status as soon as Wednesday. Sophomores Ryne Reeves and Givens Price also are in the mix.
* SLOW RECOVERY: Senior tight end Jake Long practiced Tuesday, but remains slowed by a hamstring injury that kept him out against Purdue. "We'll see how he progresses through the week," Beck said. Meanwhile, junior wide receiver Jamal Turner looks to be fully recovered from a hamstring injury.
* STANTON UPDATE: True freshman quarterback Johnny Stanton, sitting out this season as a redshirt, has missed about a week of practice with mononucleosis, Beck said. He apparently has practiced well this season. "We've had him up with us a little bit, and he's been down with the scout team some," Beck said. "He's done a nice job."
— Steven M. Sipple