Wednesday practice notes: Evans besting Adams

Cornerback Ishmael Adams was one of UCLA’s week-one stars, but has struggled more recently. Shaq Evans, in particular, seems to have made it his mission to abuse Adams after giving the redshirt freshman an earful of trash talk last week. On Wednesday, Evans’ best play was a tipped pass to himself for a score.

Adams should still be fine, but his lack of size is showing. He has also spent all of spring in a red jersey, but defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin said Adams could play a game now if necessary.

Evans, meanwhile, should figure to be a bigger red-zone target this season. Receivers coach Eric Yarber also said this about the senior: “I need him to be one of the leaders of the team. Even last year, all these young kids looked up to Shaq. If Shaq wasn’t having a good day, it was almost like the whole group wasn’t having a good day.”

» Jordan Payton likely remains ahead of Devin Lucien on the receiver depth chart heading into summer camp. Payton made a nice catch on Wednesday while double-covered by Anthony Jefferson and Dietrich Riley. Riley was consistently beaten in pass coverage, which may or may not be due to injury rust.

» Eldridge Massington is still rehabbing his ACL tear. He had a minor setback last week, but the main obstacle will likely be more mental than physical.

“It’s going to take an incident where he’s going to catch a ball, and he’s not gonna think about it and he’s going to spin, take a hit, put his foot in the ground and change direction,” Yarber said. “Then he’s going to say ‘Oh, I’m fine.’ That won’t happen until probably summer camp.

“You show it to him on film — ‘Look at that cut right there. You weren’t thinking.’ Then they kind of do a little nod of the head and say, ‘Yeah, I am back.’”

» Wednesday was UCLA’s last spring practice in pads. No position battles have really been settled, although — for what it’s worth — offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said the running backs may be the most consistent group. Jordon James would be the presumptive No. 1 right now, but the committee approach could cap everyone at no more than 10 carries per game.

» Defensive end Kylie Fitts returned to practice after aggravating his sprained ankle earlier this week. Nose tackle Ellis McCarthy (knee) did more work on the sideline.

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