UCLA tackle Nik Abele sits out because of injury
UCLA’s offensive line is in danger of becoming thinner. Tackle Nik Abele, projected as a starter, will sit out spring practice while doctors try to determine the cause of nerve problems in his neck.
Abele, a redshirt as a freshman this past fall, will undergo X-rays Monday and will see a neurologist next week. He has been unable to practice since falling on his right shoulder during a scrimmage last week.
“I’m in a lot of pain today,” Abele said Friday. “I’m getting treatments twice a day and saw the doctor yesterday. They’re not sure why my whole body is numb.”
Abele suffered a torn nerve in the right side of his neck as a sophomore at Irvine High School. He has suffered from “stingers” since.
The problem had been further aggravated after a collision with Nate Chandler during practice in the fall caused more nerve damage.
“I don’t have any cushion left between some of my vertebrae,” Abele said. “It’s bone on bone. That causes these stingers.”
Abele was part of the master plan to rebuild the offensive line. He and Xavier Su’a-Filo were expected to be the bookends at tackle when they arrived last summer. Now Su’a-Filo is on a two-year Mormon mission and Abele’s future is murky at the moment.
UCLA has only three injury-free tackles on scholarship remaining, Mike Harris, Sean Sheller and Brett Downey. Micah Kia, who is recovering knee surgery, is expected be ready in August.
The Bruins have run nothing but the “pistol” offense this spring, using it without a huddle. Coach Rick Neuheisel said, “We’ll make some decision Sunday as to how we want to proceed the next week. Then we’ll do it again the following week.”
Neuheisel said the offense will “tune up some of the stuff we already know how to do.”
Wide receiver Josh Smith said he will not undergo surgery for a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament. … Cornerback Marlon Pollard has been unable to practice because of a hamstring injury. … UCLA will have a full scrimmage Sunday, with practice scheduled to start at 11 a.m.