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Eddie Vanderdoes, Kenny Clark keep UCLA defense strong up the middle

Eddie Vanderdoes, Kenny Clark keep UCLA defense strong up the middle
UCLA defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes chases after Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage, left, during the Bruins' win on Sept. 25, 2014. (Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

UCLA defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes stood at the back of the media pack video recording nose tackle Kenny Clark as he spoke Thursday.

It was just another shtick for two guys who have been joined at the hip for two seasons.

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"Yeah, he's cool," Vanderdoes said. "I guess."

The rock on which the Bruins' defense is built is formed by these two juniors. Clark, who has started 17 games, and Vanderdoes, who has started 19, have become the type of immovable objects that allow others to make plays.

"A lot times they are holding up double teams, keeping offensive linemen from getting to the next level," Coach Jim Mora said. "That allows guys like [linebacker] Eric Kendricks to make the plays."

Clark and Vanderdoes said they have a tacit understanding of each other that allows them to work together smoothly.

"It means everything when you're playing with someone going into a third year," Vanderdoes said. "You know their strengths and weaknesses. You play with someone every single day, you talk with each other — 'what did you see; this is what I saw.' It builds trust."

Clark made 58 tackles and Vanderdoes had 50 last season. But creating chaos up front was as important as making plays.

"Most of the time, we look at each other and we know what each is going to do," Clark said. "They'll call a stunt and we know which of us is going first without having to talk about it. Playing together for two years gives us that comfort level."

Quarterback tracking

It was freshman quarterback Josh Rosen's turn to run the first-team offense Thursday. Things did not start well. His first pass, a deep throw down the middle, was intercepted by safety Tahaan Goodman.

Rosen completed 11 of 22 passes and looked a little off on some throws.

Still, Mora was impressed.

"I think he makes plays," Mora said. "He improves every day. There is a lot to prove still. He makes good plays and then there are plays that are challenging."

Asked what would be the most challenging thing about starting a freshman if Rosen wins the job, Mora said, "It's the unknown. Not knowing what it is going to look like. Not knowing how he is going to react in certain situations because you have nothing to base that on."

Manfro out

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Running back Steven Manfro was sent home from training camp to have his left knee examined. He probably will undergo a "medical procedure," Mora said, which would keep him out two weeks.

Manfro suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee last fall.

"Often times when you come off an injury like that, you might get a little flap of meniscus [cartilage] and they have to go in and shave it off," Mora said. "I have been around guys who had that procedure and played seven days later. I don't know if he'll be back that quickly, but it is nothing that will keep him out a long time."

Mora said that the senior running back also "tweaked" his shoulder in practice.

That's a wrap

All's well that ends well, apparently. The rift between music mogul Sean Combs and the UCLA program appears to be over.

Combs posted a photo on Instagram of his son, UCLA defensive back Justin Combs, working during training camp, along with the words "Go Bruins!"

In June, Sean Combs got into an altercation with UCLA strength-and-conditioning personnel over how he felt his son was treated. Combs was arrested but no charges were filed.

Quick hits

Running back Craig Lee will miss the season opener against Virginia to complete a class, but he is expected to be available against Nevada Las Vegas on Sept. 12. Lee is finishing a class that ends on Sept. 11. . . . Freshman receiver Cordell Broadus still has not reported to training camp. Mora said that Broadus is attending to a personal matter. An update on Broadus' status could come Friday. . . . Defensive back Ishmael Adams was limited to individual work on the side Thursday because of a sprained ankle.

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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