Linebacker Eric Kendricks returns to first full practice since spring

After sitting out most of spring and fall camp, UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks returned to 11-on-11 drills Tuesday morning, the most field action he’s seen in nearly four months.

Last year’s Pac-12 leader with 150 tackles, the 6-foot, 228-pound junior said he underwent ankle surgery four weeks ago. The procedure was optional, but he said he didn’t opt for it because of worsening pain. He just wanted to be fully ready for the season.

“It feels great to be back,” Kendricks said. “To be honest with you, I’ve just been taking it easy. I’ve been in the training room. I got a lot of treatment in San Bernardino.”

He said Tuesday that he had been instructed not to disclose the exact nature of the injury.

“It was just a little bit nagging,” he said. “It was annoying. It just wasn’t normal. I know how my body feels when it’s normal, and it was just a little bit off.”

Through his return, Kendricks looked good for someone who had been away from live contact for so long. He said has enough practices left ahead of him to be prepared for the Aug. 31 opener against Nevada.

“That gives our team a lift. He’s a heck of a football player,” head coach Jim Mora said. “He’s a leader on this team. Having him in the huddle, directing things, and then looking like he did — it’s a great thing for us.”


— Freshman offensive lineman Christian Morris sat out with what Jim Mora said was an asthma attack. He should return to the team’s 7 p.m. practice. Left tackle Simon Goines is still recovering from a hyperextended knee, and spent practice on an exercise bike.

— Freshman cornerback Priest Willis has dropped down the depth chart since taking some first-team reps during fall camp. Asked whether or not missing summer workouts with strength coach Sal Alosi has affected Willis, Mora said no: “He’s doing well. … Priest spent this summer with some NFL guys, some guys with the Cardinals, working on his skillset. I’m really pleased with Priest.”

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