Head cases have beset the Bruins this August.
Whether exacerbated by the San Bernardino heat or simply a bit of bad luck, seven UCLA players were sidelined Tuesday with concussion-like symptoms — taking a large chunk of the offensive line.
“I don’t know why we seem to have this rash of head injuries,” Mora said. “I’m not sure how serious all of them are, but we’re going to treat them all as if they’re very serious.”
The line was without redshirt sophomores Kevin McReynolds and Ben Wysocki, as well as true freshmen Alex Redmond, Poasi Moala and John Lopez. Redmond and Wysocki were competing at right guard, while Moala had taken the majority of second-team snaps at right tackle.
The attrition shuffled what was gradually becoming a more stable line. In one first-team iteration, All-American Xavier Su’a-Filo moved from guard to left tackle, while backup center Carl Hulick slid to left guard.
“It kind of affects everything you do,” Mora said. “It affects the development of the depth. It affects our ability to practice the way we’d like to practice. We just have to modify it.”
Added Su’a-Filo: “When we have the luxury of numbers, we can run, one, two, three groups. With these concussions, we’ve just got to take more reps. We’ve got to make do with what we have.”
Defensive Ian Taubler and running back Malcolm Jones are also out with concussion-like symptoms.
Freshman defensive end Kylie Fitts suffered full-body cramps. Mora said he drank enough water afterward to gain 8.5 pounds. Junior linebacker Eric Kendricks has missed all team activities in fall camp recovering from an ankle procedure. He is expected to play in the Aug. 31 season opener, and may return to practice next week.
Linebacker Anthony Barr, receiver Devin Fuller and right tackle Simon Goines all sat out portions of Tuesday’s practice with what appeared to be minor injuries.
– Kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn and freshman punter Sean Covington are both competing for kickoffs. Fairbairn, who has looked very steady as placekicker, kicked off for good distance and hang time on Tuesday.
“What we need is consistency at that position, even if we’re not kicking it through the end zone every time like Jeff (Locke) did,” Mora said.
Fabian Moreau, Jordon James and Steve Manfro were all used as kick returners.
– Mora was uncertain whether or not four-star running back Craig Lee will redshirt his freshman season. A star at Redlands High, Lee has showed off his quickness but still needs to improve his pass-blocking.
“I want to see him for more than a week, but I’m glad he’s with us,” Mora said.
– Receiver Eldridge Massington had one of his better days of practice, making a nice catch over cornerback Fabian Moreau. The freshman still looks a step slow a year after he tore his ACL, but seems to be slowly improving. Position coach Eric Yarber stressed to Massington that he wasn’t finishing hard enough on routes.
Devin Lucien and Jordan Payton both also had highlight catches, with the latter abusing cornerback Ishmael Adams on one play. If senior Shaq Evans doesn’t hit 800 yards again, it will likely be because quarterback Brett Hundley has so many more targets available.