INDIANAPOLIS -- We all know Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen played through a painful toe injury last fall. Now we find out just how painful.
Hurt in the third game, Clausen played the remainder of the season with what Notre Dame officials mistakenly called turf toe -- but what Clausen later discovered was two torn ligaments in the big toe on his right foot.
Painful? You bet. In fact, Clausen had to take painkillers for every practice and had his practice time reduced to one day per week. Still, he finished with 28 touchdown passes and four interceptions and emerged as one of the top two quarterbacks in this year's draft.
"He was a great leader," said Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate. "Every day he showed up to work. Sick. Hurt. We got the same Jimmy. He did a great job keeping the team together, so I'm very pleased with what he did for the program. Overall, I think Jimmy did a great job."
No, he did a remarkable job when you consider what he had to play through -- with Clausen not properly diagnosed until he consulted a physician in late December.
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When the severity of the injury was revealed, he underwent surgery that will keep him from throwing for scouts until April 9. Until then, however, he did what was necessary to keep playing -- and that meant taking painkillers almost daily.
"Every single game I took a Toradol -- or painkiller -- shot," said Clausen, "and every single practice I had to take a Toradol pill to be able to practice. It was probably the most painful thing I've ever gone through. Being a quarterback and having to plant off my right foot and my big toe ... it was really hard to play on."
Clausen said the decision to continue was his, and he hesitated when asked if he would have played had he known the severity of his injury. "It wasn't an option," he said. Playing through the injury was, and Clausen did what he could.
"We would have an off day on Monday," said Clausen, "and Tuesday we would practice -- and I really wouldn't practice at all on that day. On Wednesday I practiced a few team periods toward the end of practice, and then on Thursday I'd do one [drill] on the field, and that would be it."
Clausen never missed a start. More surprising is that he missed almost as few passes. Over his final seven games he completed 68 percent of his attempts, had 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
"One of my strengths is being an accurate passer," he said. "I really pride myself on putting ball in front of the receivers and tight ends and backs so they catch the ball, run with it and make plays."
He can pride himself on his toughness, too. If that wasn't something he could have sold NFL teams six months ago, it's something he can sell them now.