Notre Dame junior nose tackle Louis Nix III practiced Tuesday and the hope remains that he plays Saturday against Pitt after missing the past two games.
Nix (6-foot-2, 357 pounds) missed wins over Air Force and Navy because of knee tendinitis, but coaches also were being cautious because of the cut-blocking that triple-option teams such as the Falcons and Midshipmen employ.
Nix had an MRI over the weekend and it showed no serious damage, though Irish coach Brian Kelly said during a news conference Tuesday that the injury eventually will require surgery. Kelly also said that on the advice of team doctors and trainers, Nix had undergone platelet-rich plasma therapy in the past two weeks.
"We don't want him hobbling around and putting himself in harm's way," Kelly said. "He feels good about it, and he knows he can help the football team."
If Nix can't go, the Irish's defensive line is in trouble. Kona Schwenke had replaced him the past two weeks, but he injured his ankle and is out this week. If Nix is out, fifth-year senior Tyler Stockton -- who has two career tackles -- would be the likely starter at nose tackle. There is also a chance starting end Sheldon Day misses the game with an ankle injury. Seldom-used senior Bruce Heggie was moved from the offensive line to defensive end this week, and he also could see time Saturday.
Nix is a fourth-year junior who is an elite run-stuffer; he also has the quickness, strength and athleticism to be a disruptive force vs. the pass. He does a nice job of consistently holding his ground, even against double teams, which enables linebackers to come in and clean up the play.