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Headaches keep Olson off field

Times Staff Writer

UCLA’s problems got a little worse Tuesday, as quarterback Ben Olson did not practice because of “headaches,” Coach Karl Dorrell said.

Patrick Cowan was in charge of the first-team offense in his first full practice since returning from a partially torn hamstring. Whether Olson would be ready in time for Saturday’s game against Washington is unclear.

Olson was not allowed to speak with the media Tuesday and Dorrell was vague about the injury. Olson was battered repeatedly in Saturday’s 44-6 loss to Utah.

“Ben has a headache and he’s had this headache since Saturday night,” Dorrell said.

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Asked if the headaches were from a concussion, Dorrell said, “That’s not what I anticipate it being. But we just want to be smart because we had a rash of concussions lately.”

On Sunday, Dorrell said Olson was OK and he did not include him in his injury report during a Monday news conference.

Last week, Dorrell said that linebacker Aaron Whittington was suffering from “nausea,” then admitted Sunday that Whittington had suffered a concussion for the second consecutive week in the Utah game.

Olson missed the last eight games of the season in 2007 because of a knee injury. Cowan took over the team and led the Bruins to victories in the last three regular-season games, including USC.

Cowan said little about his chances of starting, other than “I’m preparing to play if needed.”

Olson would have to practice by Thursday in order to play, Dorrell said.

"[Ben] feels better today and the doctors wanted him to stay out one more day,” Dorrell said. “He feels good, but we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

The Bruins already will be without five starters: wide receiver Marcus Everett (ankle), guard Shannon Tevaga (knee), defensive tackle Brigham Harwell, defensive end Nikola Dragovic and Whittington. Fullback Michael Pitre has yet to play this season, meaning the Bruins could go into Saturday’s game without seven of their 20 returning starters from last season.

Everett was on crutches Tuesday and ruled out for Saturday’s game, two days after Dorrell said he had a sprained ankle that did not seem severe.

“He doesn’t have a lot of swelling, but it’s pretty tender,” Dorrell said Tuesday.

Everett’s injury opens a spot for sophomore Osaar Rasshan, who moved from quarterback to receiver this year. Rasshan, who has shown the skill to develop into a quality receiver in practice, got into his first game at the end of the Stanford game Sept. 1, but did not catch a pass.

Still, he said, “That takes away the first-game jitters Right now, my focus isn’t even on the game. My focus is on going into practice every day, making every catch to try to prove to the coaches I can do it on the field.”

Brian Price, cleared by the NCAA on Monday to rejoin the Bruins, went through his first day of practice since Aug. 6 and was expected to get into Saturday’s game on a limited basis. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Price is considered the Bruins’ top recruit.

“He’s quick and explosive,” defensive line coach Todd Howard said. “We can use him this weekend as a pass rusher, then work him in as he gets in better and better shape.

“He is still catching up, but he’s a smart kid and we’ll have him ready to go this week. We’ll have a package for him.”

Besides, Howard said using Price in passing situations is easy: “You say, ‘Go get the quarterback.’ ”

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chris.foster@latimes.com


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