Two weeks ago, Simon Goines limped off the Cal State San Bernardino practice field, his UCLA teammates standing in silence. The left tackle’s right leg had taken an awkward roll, and he placed little pressure on it as he was helped toward the locker room.
“Initially, I was pretty scared,” he said.
Further examination showed that it was a hyperextended right knee — good news for a young unit that needs as many experienced members as possible. The sophomore participated in Monday’s practice for the first time since the injury, and head coach Jim Mora expects him to be ready to play against Nevada.
Goines started 13 games at right tackle in 2012, but struggled all season with knee issues. He said his trouble now — a lingering bone bruise — isn’t related. Still, he’s relieved stress on his knees by losing weight: 330 pounds going into last season, he is now down to 317. His goal is around 315 or 310 pounds.
“I just feel a lot better, more in shape,” Goines said. “I can move better. … I’m more light on my feet.”
He was confident in being able to return to full health soon, adding that he simply wants to work back slowly to avoid aggravating the injury.
Having shifted to left tackle, Goines also had some interesting picks for his toughest competition in practice. In addition to senior defensive end Cassius Marsh, whom Goines called “one of the best rushers I’ve played against,” he pointed out true freshmen Kylie Fitts and Kenny Clark as standouts.