UCLA tackle Simon Goines will return to Westwood from training camp at Cal State San Bernardino to undergo surgery to remove bone spurs in his ankle. He is expected to miss at least three weeks.
It's a small setback in Goines' effort to return from off-season knee surgery that kept him out of spring practice and left him on the sidelines through the first week of training camp.
Goines started six games last season before breaking a leg against Arizona State in the seventh week. He started 13 games in 2012.
The Bruins appear better equipped to deal with losses on the offensive line than they were two seasons ago. They have brought in 11 linemen in the last three recruiting classes.
UCLA was without three top-end linemen Thursday. Conor McDermott sat out to rest a shoulder that required surgery last season. Alex Redmond remained off the field after leaving practice early because of the heat on Wednesday.
Redmond was expected to return to practice Friday. McDermott will be brought along slowly during training camp.
"We have numbers, but not as much quality as I would like," offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said. "We are definitely getting better, definitely heading in the right direction. We're still developing."
Losing three prominent linemen three years ago would have reduced the Bruins to playing flag football three years ago.
"It would have been a problem before," junior center Jake Brendel said. "Now, it's 'OK, next man up"
Linemen Scott Quessenberry, John Lopez and Najee Toran moved in to fill holes.
Brendel said, "we needed more numbers. We needed to get the right guys in here to be successful. There is pressure when you have someone who is close to your ability pushing you every day. That's good motivation."
The other guys
Linebacker Myles Jack demanded the spotlight last season. He received the attention few freshman attract.
Meanwhile, in front of him on defense, were two other freshmen: defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes and nose tackle Kenny Clark.
Those two didn't need the praise, they are pretty good at praising each other.
"Eddie is the best player I have ever played with," Clark said.
Said Vanderdoes: "Kenny Clark was underappreciated last season. He came on the last part of the season and I don't know another nose guard with better stats."
The Bruins need those two to dominate the front, as they need Jack to continue his prominent play.
"They were real impact guys last year," Coach Jim Mora said. "You watch the tape and there are plays by both guys where an offensive lineman gets tilted a little and they just exploit that with brute strength."
Clark is a little further along technique-wise, Mora said. And he has the burden of playing the nose tackle, where the gritty work goes unnoticed sometimes.
But Clark has his own definition of success.
"If I put our linebackers in position to make plays, if I push the center back, if I disrupt the running backs, that is success," Clark said.
Defensive line coach Angus McClure saw that potential after the Nebraska game a year ago.
"He was so strong in that game, I knew he was not only going to be in the defensive rotation, he had a bright future," McClure said.
As for Vanderdoes, McClure pointed to the Nevada game, where "he came in and dominated tackle Joel Bitonio."
Bitonio was drafted in the second round by the Cleveland Browns last spring.
Vanderdoes has begun to smooth the rough edges.
"He is so strong that sometimes he depends on strength rather than technique," Mora said. But, he added, "Two days ago, he used hands and didn't make it a personal battle between him and the guy blocking him. Today, I saw a couple of really good pass rush moves. If he gets guys off balanced and clubs them, they'll go flying."
Vanderdoes said the year of experience on the college level has helped.
"The first year you come in and the only thing you're focused on is 'this is what I'm supposed to do,' " Vanderdoes said. "I have a whole different perspective now. I see a guy do something and I know where they are trying to go."
Receiver Thomas Duarte was limited to riding the stationary bicycle after tweaking his hamstring Wednesday. ... Freshman linebacker Zach Whitley left practice after taking a hit to the head.
Follow Chris Foster on Twitter @cfosterlatimesCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times