USC quarterback Cody Kessler nimbly dropped back to pass, rolled out to his right and left and sprinted from drill to drill.
Kessler's mobility Friday morning was a far different look than Wednesday night, when he lay prone on the Coliseum turf during the Trojans' first scrimmage.
Kessler had fumbled an attempted handoff and fell to the ground trying to recover the ball. A teammate rolled up on his left leg, and Kessler was unsure of the condition of his knee.
"I wouldn't say I was in shock, but it freaked me out," he said Friday, the first time the Trojans practiced since the scrimmage.
After the play, Kessler stood up and then bent down to grab his lower left leg.
"I was thinking, 'Oh man, I just almost lost my knee,'" he recalled. "It was more of a frightened, scared feeling as much as anything. You never think it's going to happen to you."
Kessler shook off the scare and completed the scrimmage. He appears comfortable in USC's new offense, which will get its first test in the Aug. 30 opener against Fresno State.
Like Kessler, USC tailback Javorius Allen also bounced back from a serious injury scare.
Allen was removed from a scrimmage after landing awkwardly on his right shoulder, but he was on the field Friday for a practice conducted without pads. He also practiced Friday night in full pads.
"Everybody plays with a little pain," Allen said. "It's part of my game. I've got to sacrifice myself for my team out here to make each other better.
"I feel like if I'm not practicing, I feel like my linebackers are not getting better and our defense is not getting better. I'm trying to make everybody better."
Allen's work ethic helped him stay motivated when he was low on the depth chart. He got his opportunity midway through last season when Ed Orgeron took over as interim coach and other tailbacks suffered injuries. Allen wound up as the team's leading rusher and most valuable player.
But Allen dismissed the notion that as a proven player he could sit out.
"I hate missing practice," he said. "I hate not being on the field with my teammates."
Kessler said Allen had worked too hard to give up his spot.
"He never wants anyone to have a chance to say, 'Oh well, he's taking himself out. Let them take it from him,'" Kessler said.
"If someone is going to take it from him they're going to have to [work] as hard as they can. Buck's a really tough guy."
Two weeks to recover
Freshman Adoree' Jackson sat out again Friday morning because of a foot injury that has sidelined him for about a week. He did some drills without pads Friday night.
Jackson is on track to play receiver and cornerback and possibly return kicks.
Asked if there was a point that Jackson needed to practice to be ready for the opener, Coach Steve Sarkisian indicated that he hoped it would be soon. But he said he would not put Jackson in a position where he might suffer further injury. "Especially for younger players, guys who have never played at this level … we would like for him to get going again so we can coach him, because he doesn't know," Sarkisian said.
"We're trying to coach him the best we can in the walk-throughs and the individual periods and whatnot but ultimately, for him to practice is going to be critical."
Veteran players such as defensive linemen Leonard Williams (shoulder) and Antwaun Woods (elbow) also have been sidelined but Sarkisian said they had been through "the fire" of preparing for and experiencing several seasons.
The Trojans will practice Saturday at the Coliseum. The workout is closed to the public.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times