CHICAGO (AP) _ Penn State coach Joe Paterno plans to play quarterback Rashard Casey, the senior charged with assaulting an off-duty police officer earlier this year.

``I'm gonna play Rashard Casey until something convinces me I shouldn't,'' Paterno said during the annual Big Ten Conference Kickoff Luncheon.

Paterno evaded further questions about his troubled quarterback, who pleaded innocent to the aggravated assault charge in the May 14 incident in his hometown of Hoboken, N.J.

``I'm not a lawyer,'' Paterno said several times when asked about Casey's legal troubles Wednesday. Clearly frustrated by the questions, Paterno later said, ``There's nothing I can do about anything right now.''

Police say Casey punched Officer Patrick Fitzsimmons, 34, as he was walking to his car outside a Hoboken bar.

Casey and former high school teammate Desmond Miller kicked the officer in the head after he fell and kept kicking him after he lost consciousness, police said.

Police have said it may be racially motivated. Fitzsimmons, who is white, was at the bar with a black woman. A witness said the two players, who are black, yelled that the woman should not be with a white man.

Fitzsimmons has sued. He is seeking an unspecified amount of money for ``severe and painful injuries'' that have brought ``significant loss in the quality and enjoyment of his life,'' according to the lawsuit.

Paterno has stood by Casey thus far, saying the evidence will exonerate his player. In addition to police, the university opened its own investigation. But school officials said his status with the team would not change until the judicial process is completed.

Casey shared time at quarterback last season, but led the team to victory in the Alamo Bowl. He is projected as the Nittany Lions' starting quarterback.