Ward X-rays negative, listed as day-to-day

UCLA has had two injury scares in the last four days.
Both resulted in massive sighs of relief for Rick Neuheisel.
After Aaron Hester was thought to have suffered a serious hamstring injury in the Bruins’ scrimmage on Saturday at Drake Stadium, only to return on Monday showing no effects, Chris Ward was carted off the same field this afternoon after hurting his ankle.
Luckily for UCLA, Ward’s injury was similarly minor, as X-rays came out negative, with Ward listed day-to-day.
Given little depth at both positions, an injury to either would’ve been very costly.

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Post-Practice Update

* It was a pretty grueling practice at Drake Stadium, coming back early for the morning practice. It was hot and muggy, and the players fought through it well.

* Sophomore OL Chris Ward suffered an ankle injury, which the team is calling a minor ankle sprain, but looks far worse. Ward was in serious pain and eventually had to be carted away from Drake Stadium. Rick Neuheisel and Bob Palcic implied it wouldn’t be serious, but Ward was to be taken for X-rays today. This could be a bad one for UCLA. They can’t lose anyone in the top eight up front.

* Cory Harkey has really upped his game the last couple days, and he had a nice one-handed touchdown in drills on a pass from Kevin Prince. Joseph Fauria also had a one-handed catch later in the day.

* Prince threw the ball pretty well today, displaying better touch on the medium-range passes, and throwing a few nice deep passes. Richard Brehaut was his usual accurate self, but he struggled at times throwing on the run. He did see more time with the first team than he has all camp, though.

* Brett Hundley looked pretty rusty throwing the ball, but that’s to be expected as he works on his timing. He ran a little more today, but Neuheisel said trainers are still concerned with the volume with his running.

* There were a handful of egregious drops by the wide receivers, none immune to it, and I assume a lot had to do with the uptick in tempo and heat. That’s all a focus deal.

* Eric Kendricks was really active, with a couple of pass breakups and a couple nice fills.

* Jeff Locke again closed practice with a good field goal.

* Tony Dye returned at full strength and the entire defensive backfield seemed to respond, playing at a very high level today. Alex Mascarenas also returned in a red jersey, and the depth is back up to speed.

* Andrew Abbott had a fantastic practice, with two really nice interceptions, one on a deep Prince pass and one on Brehaut over the middle. Both were good jumps on the ball.

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Post-Practice Update

* It was a good first post-camp scrimmage for UCLA today, highlighted by the return of Brett Hundley and the success of Jeff Locke in the kicking game.

* Hundley’s return obviously became the story of the day, and while he saw rather limited action, it’s clear that he’s ready to play a role in the offense. How big a role is to be determined, but Rick Neuheisel reiterated that he could be in some specific packages. Hundley saw some reps with the first-team offense in 11-on-11 drills, but trainers kept him locked down for much of the day. He did have this to say about his role:

“If I didn’t miss two weeks I think I’d have a pretty good shot at (the starting spot). Missing two weeks, surely when it’s camp, is a big thing. That hurt. If I would have had the two weeks, I can’t go back and say I would have done this and that, but I mean, obviously, I would have had a better chance at starting. It is what it is. I’m going to be patient and when the time comes I’m going to take it and never look back.”

Hundley on weighing a redshirt year vs. a package role:
“That’s the one thing were sort of thinking about. I guess the question it comes down to is, is it worth playing that many snaps a game, or is it worth me redshirting and learning the offense and coming back next year as a redshirt freshman? That’s the one thing me and my family will talk over and then we’ll talk to Neuheisel about it. Obviously if I play, there’s still a chance throughout the season for me to start. I don’t ever keep that out of my mind. If things happen to go wrong, I can easily get a shot at starting. It’s a big game right now. We’re sort of just talking it through and sort of seeing what’s going on. After this week we’ll know a little better what’s going to happen. We’re going to figure out (whether) it’s worth playing 10, 15, 20 snaps a game or redshirting or just coming back next years as a redshirt freshman.”

* There were a number of false start penalties, perhaps attributed to the fact it was a major installation day. The defense wasn’t immune too, with Datone Jones flagged for an encroachment penalty.

* Nothing too intriguing on the starting quarterback front as neither were particularly good in the throwing game. The offense as a whole looked pretty sound today, though, and both players saw first-team reps, though the lion’s share went to Kevin Prince. Prince struggled a bit in the two-minute drill with the first team, taking a sack that drew Neuheisel’s wrath.

* Locke followed both two-minute drills with field goals to close practice, and it’s becoming clear that the kicking situation is even murkier. We could see Locke on punts and field goals/PATs and Kip Smith on kickoffs. Special teams coach Angus McClure said it was a mechanical issue with Smith, that he’s hurrying too much. On his successful kicks, he’s about 1.31 seconds. On the misses, he’s as fast as 1.10. That’s a jitters deal, and if Smith can work those out over the next couple weeks, he should be OK.

* Tony Dye is expected to return tomorrow, but as always, it’s a fluid situation. Taylor Embree still out.

* Tevin McDonald returned today, and Aaron Hester also practiced, and Neuheisel said his injury was more of a scare than anything else.

* Wesley Flowers suffered a punctured lung in the scrimmage and was hospitalized Saturday night. It was far worse than they’d anticipated. He’ll be out several weeks, and can’t fly for a few weeks. He won’t be traveling to Houston.

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