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Malone’s Work Pays Dividends

Times Staff Writer

Tom Malone will never be confused with some of his hulking USC teammates, but the sophomore punter might have benefited more from the Trojans’ demanding off-season strength program than any other player.

“I’m not the same guy I was when I first came here,” said Malone, who graduated a semester early from Temescal Canyon High in Lake Elsinore and enrolled at USC in the spring of 2002.

On Wednesday, Malone continued an impressive training camp with kicks during special teams drills that traveled 50 to 60 yards.

“He’s killing the ball,” Coach Pete Carroll said. “His hang times are ridiculous.... Even his bad kicks are fairly acceptable kicks.”

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Malone averaged 42.1 yards for 62 kicks last season. Twelve were for more than 50 yards, including one that traveled 72 yards.

After the season, Malone went into the weight room and reported for training camp with an added 15 pounds of muscle on his 6-foot frame.

“I did a lot of flexibility exercises and kicking-specific lifts,” said Malone, who is listed at 190 pounds.

“I also did a lot of work on my drops and punting. The confidence from all that work has really helped me.”

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Running back Chauncey Washington, offensive lineman Fili Moala and fullback Jody Adewale did not practice because they are awaiting certification from the NCAA Clearinghouse.... Starting left tackle Jacob Rogers was fitted with a custom brace for his injured left foot and participated in light drills for the first time since the second day of training camp. Rogers said he would increase his workout today and planned to participate in a few series during a situational scrimmage Friday. The Trojans do not practice Saturday and will begin preparations for Auburn on Sunday.... Freshman fullback Whitney Lewis did a series of running drills to test his injured right knee and said he probably would practice today....

Carroll said fullback Brandon Hancock, who injured his ankle Saturday, will remain hospitalized another day or two because of an infection in his right knee.... Strongside linebacker Matt Grootegoed did not participate in team drills because of a sore back.... Weakside linebacker Melvin Simmons worked some at middle linebacker.... Defensive tackle Shaun Cody did not practice to rest his surgically repaired left knee.


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