Darius Savage is back in the picture for Bruins


The twists and turns and, unfortunately for the Bruins, the breaks the offensive line has gone through has brought senior guard Darius Savage back to the forefront.

Center Kai Maiava suffered a fractured ankle in a scrimmage Saturday, forcing Ryan Taylor to shift from left guard to center, leaving open a starting spot that Savage has at the moment.

Savage had been filling the right guard spot while Eddie Williams recovered from a concussion. Williams returned to practice Monday and Savage switched sides.

“I made a lot of sacrifices to get back here,” said Savage, who had back surgery in January and sat out spring practice. “It’s just a blessing that I’m back on the field.”

Savage, who started seven games at left guard in 2008 and appeared in all 13 games last season, couldn’t wiggle his toes after lifting weights in January. Savage said that a shin problem was suspected at first. It turned out to be a disk pressing against his spinal cord.

“At first they said I wasn’t supposed to play football anymore because of the severity of my back injury,” Savage said. He was then told that he could play, if he slimmed down.

Savage “trimmed” to 328 pounds, 40 less than he weighed last season.

“I had to give up a lot of things,” Savage said. “You know us big guys, we try to get that bedtime snack in.”

Offensive line coach Bob Palcic said that a lighter Savage is “moving a lot quicker.”

How long Savage keeps the starting spot could depend on how quickly freshman Chris Ward develops. Ward was moved Monday from left tackle to guard and worked with the second team.

“There really isn’t much difference to playing guard,” Ward said. “I already knew what the guard is supposed to do. I had to know what everyone was doing to do my assignment anyway. I’ll pull some now, that’s about the only difference.”

Quarterback watch

Quarterback Kevin Prince did little in either the morning or afternoon practice beyond working on pitches and handoffs. He threw briefly after the morning practice, but did not throw in the afternoon after consulting with team trainers.

“They didn’t feel I was doing enough to go throw two straight practices,” Prince said. “They decided I should do conditioning, because I haven’t been doing that as much lately.”

Prince said he will “need a few practices to get back into the flow of the game” if he is to play against Kansas State on Sept. 4.

Said offensive coordinator Norm Chow: “He needs time to feel comfortable. I’m very comfortable with him.”

Abele coming back?

Tackle Nik Abele, who was forced to retire because of a chronic neck injury, said he is trying to work his way back to the team.

“If the two bulging disks recede, then the neurologists will look at the MRIs and see if I can play,” Abele said.

Abele, who was at practice briefly Monday, said he has been working with a chiropractor and that he was feeling better.

Quick hits

Starting cornerback Sheldon Price left practice after dislocating the index finger on his right hand. …Running back Malcolm Jones has a sprained ankle that required a boot on his left leg. …Offensive guard Stanley Hasiak, who is academically ineligible, was at practice and said he would rejoin workouts later this week.