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Washington Hurts Hamstring

Times Staff Writer

USC practiced in full pads for the first time Monday, and it did not take long for the Trojans to suffer a casualty.

Chauncey Washington, the Trojans’ No. 1 tailback, took a handoff, ran around the right end and felt a pop in his left hamstring before he was knocked hard out of bounds. Washington somersaulted across the turf and grabbed his left leg as he got to his feet.

Fans let out a collective groan and the coaching staff winced as Washington limped to a spot about 10 yards behind teammates. He took off his helmet and angrily spun it on the ground.

“Right before I got ready to turn the corner I felt the pop, so I slowed up after that,” said Washington, who is eligible for the first time since 2003. “I was mad. I don’t need that right now.

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“I just got a little scared because I’ve been working too hard to get to this point to just have my body fall apart.”

Trainers examined Washington and held him out of practice.

The incident could be troubling for the Trojans because Washington said he injured the same leg a few weeks before training camp started. His workload through the first four days of practices had been relatively light as coaches evaluated freshmen C.J. Gable, Stafon Johnson and Emmanuel Moody and sophomore Michael Coleman, who is coming back from hip surgery.

“I wish it wouldn’t happen, but the nature of it is pretty mild so we’re not really concerned yet,” Coach Pete Carroll said of Washington’s injury. “We’ll see how long it lasts.”

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Former USC All-American Ronnie Lott addressed the team before the afternoon practice during a meeting in Heritage Hall.

Players said Lott, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, spoke passionately about striving for greatness.

“When Mr. Lott talked, everybody was listening,” junior cornerback Mozique McCurtis said.

Several players said they stole glances at the pinkie that Lott had partly amputated while playing for the San Francisco 49ers.

“I think everyone was in shock and awe,” McCurtis said. “Nobody wanted to ask him about it.”

McCurtis, apparently inspired, intercepted a pass thrown by quarterback Mark Sanchez to end practice.

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Junior defensive end Lawrence Jackson did not practice for the fourth day in a row because of a groin strain. Carroll said Jackson did not attend the workout because he was undergoing therapy in a pool. “It’s just trying to get where, when he comes back, he’s back to stay,” Carroll said.... Travis Draper, who has been working as the backup center, sat out practice and was scheduled to have an MRI exam on his back. Guard Jeff Byers and converted tackle Nick Howell worked in his place.


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