Injured defensive backs are a ‘huge’ concern for UCLA
More people were watching practice Tuesday than UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel would prefer. Cornerback Sheldon Price … strong safety Dalton Hilliard … F-back Anthony Barr.
All sat out with injuries, and add to that a handful of players in red, no-contact jerseys.
Price sat with a sprained right knee and Hilliard with a sprained left shoulder. Safety Tony Dye (shoulder injury) and cornerback Andrew Abbott (concussion), both of whom missed the Oregon State game, were given limited clearance to practice.
Injuries are never Neuheisel’s favorite topic of conversation, but he said the number of defensive backs hurt was a “huge” concern. The Bruins play Stanford and quarterback Andrew Luck, a Heisman Trophy front-runner, on Saturday.
“We’ve got to get some healthy bodies,” Neuheisel said. But, he added, “It is what it is. We’ll do the best we can to keep guys healthy and then go out and play.”
Neuheisel said he expected Price and Hilliard to be ready for the game. Price had an MRI exam that “showed no real damage,” Neuheisel said. Hilliard, Neuheisel said, has a “slight” shoulder sprain.
Price’s injury leaves the Bruins thin at cornerback, especially with Abbott waiting to be cleared to play. On Sunday, Neuheisel said Abbott cleared the concussion protocol, but amended that Tuesday, saying Abbott still needed to first pass an impact test.
Dye practiced for the first time in two weeks.
“It’s just a matter of waiting for the swelling to go down,” Dye said. “Hopefully they are going to let me hit later this week. I can’t stand on the sidelines watching another game.”
Barr, who Neuheisel said sat out with a “knee issue,” was schedule to be examined by a doctor Tuesday.
The good news for the secondary was the presence of cornerback Jamie Graham, who was in pads for the first time since having surgery on his right knee in August.
Graham did individual drills Tuesday. He is expected to be cleared to do teams drills Wednesday
“I finally feel 100%, which is something I haven’t felt in a long, long time,” said Graham, who had surgery on the same knee last October. “Even after recovering from the first surgery, I didn’t feel this good.”
Good enough to play Saturday?
“If they need me, I’m going in,” Graham said.
Neuheisel said he would like to rest Graham another week, but “with all these guys hurt, you never know.”
Kicker Jeff Locke, who had a field goal and an extra point blocked against Oregon State, made all five field goal attempts in practice. He had a new holder for the kick at the end of the two-minute drill. Wide receiver Taylor Embree replaced Alex Mascarenas, who injured his hand during practice. … Running back Johnathan Franklin, who left the Oregon State game with a bruised thigh, practiced Tuesday. … Linebacker Glenn Love hobbled off the field at the end of practice with what appeared to be a leg injury.
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