Charlie Weis expects Jimmy Clausen's turf toe to get better every week.
But neither coach nor quarterback think the most scrutinized right toe in South Bend will fully heal before Thanksgiving. For Weis and Clausen, the trick during preparations for Washington and every game afterward is managing the pain rather than attempting to make it go away.
"It's just a nagging injury," Clausen said. "I don't think I'll be 100 percent healthy until the end of the season or after the season. Next week is going to be big for me just getting my rest and resting my toe as much as I can."
The bye that follows this weekend should help Clausen take another gingerly step toward recovering from the turf toe injury suffered while getting sacked against Michigan State. Clausen played against Purdue with a metal plate in his right shoe and without a cleat to help relieve pressure on the toe, but those accommodations did only so much to minimize the pain.
Clausen finished 15-of-26 for 171 yards and one touchdown, playing barely half the game against the Boilermakers. He threw one less incompletion in those two quarters than during the entire games against Nevada and Michigan State combined.
The best news for Clausen might be the fact his injury didn't worsen coming out of West Lafayette. He practiced on Tuesday after skipping that day of preparation for Purdue. There was no walking boot after the game and Weis indicated the swelling in the foot had also subsided.
"To be honest, last week after the Michigan State game, after I got injured, it was pretty painful. I could barely walk on it," Clausen said. "Just to translate that to this week, I feel a lot better than I did. After the Purdue game, I felt pretty good on Sunday and yesterday when I was out there to practice."
Clausen downplayed the significance of going almost exclusively to the shotgun last week. While the formation eliminated the need to take drops, Clausen still found himself on the move against the pass rush. He was sacked three times.
Despite starting 26 games at Notre Dame, Clausen said he's not veteran enough to skip practice and expect to get a full grasp of that week's game plan. Weis joked last week that Clausen might "milk" his injury to get extra rest, but the quarterback doesn't operate that way.
"To be honest, I need a lot of preparation, whether we're putting in different plays or different things, different Mike (linebacker) ID calls," Clausen said. "For me, I don't like not being able to practice and then going out to play.
"I have to prepare myself on the field in practice before I can go play, and like everyone says, the way you practice is the way you're going to play, and if you don't practice, then you're just doomed to have a bad day."