Lineman Dieffenbach still hoping for late-season return


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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- One interesting aspect of an anterior cruciate ligament injury is how undamaged the knee appears on the outside. The patient, unable to engage in high-intensity exercise for months after ACL surgery, usually looks fine, like he or she could engage in any activity.

Penn State senior offensive guard Miles Dieffenbach walked around like that, like he wasn't hurt, during the Penn State football team's annual Lift for Life charity event Saturday. He didn't have a large brace, and he didn't noticeably limp. But his spring ACL tear is far from healed. Dieffenbach is still getting used to the probability of missing most of his senior year while hoping his rehabilitation proceeds quickly enough for him to get back on the field for the last three or four games.

"It's tough, but it's what you sign up for," he said. "It's part o2f the game. Guys get injured and you have to take it with a grain of salt at the end of the day. I'm going to be better for it -- bigger, faster, stronger."

Dieffenbach, a Fox Chapel High School graduate, tore his ACL during spring workouts. He said it happened on a routine play when a teammate rolled on his knee.

As anyone who follows Penn State football closely knows, Dieffenbach is a major loss. He's not only a leader with a year of experience as a starter but he also is one of few offensive linemen on the team. His presence could make a significant difference if he is available in the final stretch of the season.

Dieffenbach said that is the plan right now if his rehabilitation continues on the same path. He's able to run on a treadmill and do some strength exercises with his leg. More football-specific activities will come in the weeks ahead.

Helping the freshmen

Sophomore tight end Adam Breneman has only been on campus for about a year and a half, but he has begun assuming a veteran's role for the team's freshmen. According to the Penn State roster, there are 33 freshmen, including walk-ons.

Breneman has tried to counsel freshmen who are receivers or tight ends, such as tight end Mike Gesicki.

His teaching role involves explaining everything from football to school to restaurant selections.

"It's just guys coming to get some advice and how they would be able to come in here and be able to play early and adjust quickly," Breneman said. "I got close with some of the guys who enrolled early this year."

The workouts Breneman and his teammates have been participating in this summer haven't been easy. He hesitated to call any of the summer workouts "fun" but appreciated the way strength coach Dwight Galt mixes up activities.

The other day, the team had to complete agility drills in a sand pit by the track and then run eight to 10 220-yard sprints, according to Breneman and tight end Brent Wilkerson.

"That was probably the hardest one," Wilkerson said.

Mark Dent:, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05.

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