USC's Josh Shaw will play against UCLA on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, but how Coach Steve Sarkisian plans to deploy him is a mystery.
Sarkisian said after Thursday's closed practice that Shaw would play and "have some role to contribute in the ballgame."
Shaw, a fifth-year senior, was reinstated to the team Tuesday and worked at cornerback and on special teams during his first practice Wednesday.
Sarkisian indicated that after reviewing tape of that initial workout, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Shaw did not appear rusty.
"He's an experienced guy, he's played a lot of football, so he's able to grasp things quickly," Sarkisian said. "His muscle memory of how to align or how to move out of a certain break isn't as difficult for somebody who is new to doing it."
The coaching staff was "narrowing down his role" and would adjust accordingly Saturday, Sarkisian said.
"As much as this is our 11th game — it's his first game," Sarkisian said. "So we'll just monitor him pregame and all the way through."
Shaw, who transferred to USC from Florida before the 2012, started 11 games at cornerback and three at safety last season.
He has six career interceptions at USC.
Shaw joins a secondary that has struggled at times, especially late in games.
Junior Kevon Seymour and freshman Adoree' Jackson are the starting cornerbacks. Redshirt freshman Chris Hawkins also has started games.
Jackson said that it was great to have Shaw back.
"We just always feed off each other," Jackson said. "He was making great plays and great coverage."
Senior Gerald Bowman and redshirt freshman Leon McQuay are expected to start at safety. Freshman John Plattenburg is expected to play after sitting out against California because of a thigh contusion.
Sarkisian is glad to have an experienced player such as Shaw available.
"It's always helpful, especially against UCLA," Sarkisian said. "They've got an explosive passing game. They've got a plethora of receivers that they roll through and they use a lot of tempo. So any time you have another able body, that's a positive for you."
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley's passing and running ability isn't USC's only concern.
The Trojans also must control running back Paul Perkins.
Perkins has averaged 117.2 yards rushing a game and has scored six touchdowns. He is second in the Pac-12 Conference in rushing behind USC's Javorius Allen, who averages 118.4 yards a game.
"You can see his comfort level running it," Sarkisian said.
Perkins also has 24 receptions, two for touchdowns.
"They utilize him a lot in the screen game," Sarkisian said. "He's been effective catching the ball out of the backfield. It just presents more problems."
Freshman tight end Bryce Dixon continues to practice, but Sarkisian said he had "nothing to report" regarding Dixon's status for Saturday. Dixon was suspended from the game against Cal for what Sarkisian described as an unspecified "student conduct issue."…. USC will wear its metallic-tinged alternate helmets Saturday. Both teams will wear their home jerseys.