NEWTON, Mass. -- Frank Spaziani brought a fungo bat to his media day news conference on Friday, the better to handle any off-speed offerings from the press corps.
But the bat couldn’t help him fend off the first curveball his program’s faced so far in fall camp, which is barely a week old.
Asked if he expected senior tight end Chris Pantale, the Eagles’ most experienced player with 38 starts under his belt entering the 2012 season, to play a larger role in the offense, the fourth-year head coach delivered some bad news.
“Chris, and you guys probably don’t know about this yet, injured himself yesterday,” Spaziani said. “He broke a bone in his foot and we’re still not quite sure how long this is gonna impact [him], but it’s significant time.
“I don’t want to put a time on it, but it’s significant.”
Spaziani wasn’t sure which foot the tight end injured, but said he thought it was the right.
Pantale had to come out of practice on Thursday, just three days after he was voted one of the team’s four captains (along with left tackle Emmett Cleary, defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey and safety Jim Noel) following the team’s first workout.
“Talking to him today, he injured it a couple days ago and it just flared up a little bit more in yesterday’s practice to the point where it really was bothering him,” Spaziani said. “He’s a tough kid, and he can push himself through a lot of stuff but he can’t push himself through a broken bone.”
The loss means that Mike Naples and Jarrett Darmstatter move up the depth chart at tight end. Spaziani said the team is moving redshirt offensive lineman Dave Bowen -- listed at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds -- to tight end, because Naples also has missed a couple of practices early on.
It’s likely that BC will make another move at the position, as well.
While the Pantale injury obviously is a setback, Spaziani was matter-of-fact about it.
“The system is flexible enough to move on,” he said. “That’s what happens in college football -- somebody gets injured and you move on. You do things a little bit different, that’s all. You have different packages.”
The fact Pantale had just been chosen as a co-captain speaks to the larger point: “One of the aspects, without belaboring [the point on] Chris, is that he’s one of our fifth-year seniors,” Spaziani said. “Leadership, that intangible in itself, is gonna be missed [with him not] being on the field.”
Then the coach tried his best to end on a good note.
“We have a tremendous attitude with our players right now,” he said. “You can feel the difference in the locker room. Now we’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of hard work, before September 1st, and a lot of dog days, but right now we’re well on our way and we have to see how it all shakes out.”
Asked how the attitude was different from, say, last offseason, when the Eagles were coming off a five-game, regular-season-ending win streak, Spaziani clarified.
“Enthusiasm is contagious, and the lack of enthusiasm is contagious, also,” he said. “The point I’m trying to make is there is no lack of enthusiasm in [the] Yawkey [Center, the football program’s headquarters], on the first three floors of Yawkey and the people that are involved in producing on Saturdays. There’s enthusiasm there and it really hasn’t changed.
“It can be perceived that there might be a lack of enthusiasm, and there isn’t.”
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.