Price will stay in, as Hester recovers

Cornerback Sheldon Price’s on-the-job training probably will get held over for one more week.

Price, a freshman, will start against California this week, defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough said, and probably will continue in the role against Arizona on Oct. 24.

UCLA coaches were hoping Aaron Hester (cracked fibula) would return for the Arizona game, but Coach Rick Neuheisel said that Hester is at least one more week away.

Hester, who started at cornerback in the season opener, did little more than run Wednesday.

“I think they are going to say that [Hester] has been cleared for participation next week,” Neuheisel said. “That probably means another week until he’s ready to play at game speed. Next week, he will be able to be in the practice. We’ll see where he’s at.”


Hester was to be out four to six weeks, according to UCLA officials at the time of his injury. If he returns for the game at Oregon State on Oct. 31, he will have been sidelined eight weeks.

Neuheisel said the leg has healed and there have not been any setbacks.

“It’s about getting back in shape and game shape,” Neuheisel said. “That doesn’t just happen overnight.”

In the meantime, Price will continue to fill in. He had some difficult moments, including having his 160-pound body ricochet harmlessly off Ducks receiver Jeff Maehl on a slant pass that resulted in a 20-yard touchdown.

“After watching the tape on Sunday, I pushed it behind me,” Price said of his performance in the game. “I threw it out because there is no point dwelling on the past.”

The UCLA depth chart listed Price and sophomore Courtney Viney as possible starters this week, but Bullough said Price would keep the job.

“I think he’s growing up more and more every game,” Bullough said. “He’s a very gifted player and hasn’t had as many mental mistakes as you would expect as a freshman.”

Tailback questions

Tailback Johnathan Franklin returned to practice Wednesday and tested his sprained left ankle, getting a handful of carries.

His availability remains in question for Saturday’s game against California. Franklin, the Bruins’ leading rusher with 332 yards, was injured in the 24-10 loss to Oregon.

Franklin, who gives the Bruins speed in the backfield, was unable to get in a full workout.

It leaves coaches pondering other options.

“We’ll find out on Saturday,” Franklin said about whether he would play.

Asked what was difficult about running on the ankle, Franklin said, “No comment on that.” Asked if it still hurt, Franklin said, “No comment on that.”

Asked if he was told not to comment, Franklin smiled.

Christian Ramirez, Damien Thigpen, Derrick Coleman and Milton Knox all received reps with the first team. That quartet has combined for 234 yards rushing in five games.

Quick hits

Linebacker Reggie Carter, who sat out a second practice Wednesday because of a sprained left knee, will be a game-time decision Saturday. . . . Tony Dye, who missed practice Tuesday while ill, returned to workouts Wednesday.


Times staff writer Mark Medina contributed to this report.