If Pete Massaro had to take one lesson from the first time he tore an ACL, it was the importance of patience.
Massaro said that he is '80 to 85 percent' coming off of his second major knee surgery.
As Penn State's senior defensive end inches back toward 100 percent one year after suffering his second torn ACL, he's trying to keep that lesson in mind.
"I've just got to keep telling myself I've got to take it slow, one day at a time," Massaro said Wednesday. "It does take time to get that muscle memory back. It's kind of a slow process. I'm kind of glad that I'm getting it out of the way now as opposed to camp."
Massaro was one of the Nittany Lions' top defensive linemen -- and one of the few healthy defensive ends -- during the 2010 season and was poised for a strong 2011 before tearing the ACL in his left knee (he had torn the same ligament in his right knee in 2009) during a practice last March and missing the entire 2011 campaign.
He hasn't participated in many contact drills so far this spring but, like the rest of the linemen, is adjusting to the new schemes installed by new defensive coordinator Ted Roof.
"Coach Roof has got a lot of different fronts," Massaro said. "He likes to be multiply aggressive. We're going to have a lot of stuff going in and different looks we're going to have to learn. But it's not a 180 from what we were doing before."
The biggest differences, Massaro said, involve alignments. He might play the seven-technique now instead of the nine-technique. But the bulk of the responsibilities are the same.
"You've still got to control your gap, get off the block and get to the ball carrier," he said. "It's not something that's revolutionary that's going to take a lot of time to learn. It's something that people picked up pretty quick."
Massaro, who estimated he's at about "80, 85 percent" right now, was basically finished with his rehab when Penn State hired new trainer Tim Bream in February. But there was still plenty of work to be done.
"Everything still focused on getting those muscles around the knee stronger," he said. "Some of the exercises (Bream uses) are different and ways he goes about it are different. I think he's done a great job so far with my rehab and he's done a great job with guys who have gotten injured more recently. We liked the guys that were in there before as well, but it's nice to have a new face, new opinion and a new style of doing things."
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