UCLA notes: Receiver Mossi Johnson returns to practice after shoulder injury

Safety Tahaan Goodman breaks up a pass intended for receiver Tyler Scott. Tuesday, August 5, 2014. (John Valenzuela/ Daily Bulletin)

Safety Tahaan Goodman breaks up a pass intended for receiver Tyler Scott. Tuesday, August 5, 2014. (John Valenzuela/ Daily Bulletin)

» Mossi Johnson appears to have avoided the worst. After leaving Monday’s practice with a left shoulder injury, he returned on Tuesday to participate in some light individual drills.

Head coach Jim Mora said Johnson — a surprise performer at inside receiver this spring — was diagnosed with a second-degree AC sprain. Johnson will likely be held out of full contact for two weeks, but an earlier return isn’t out of the question either.

In addition to being an obvious physical setback, a serious injury could have dealt a heavy emotional blow to a player that had already grayshirted the 2013 season to rehab multiple torn knee ligaments.

Elsewhere on the injury front, true freshman linebacker Cameron Griffin left Tuesday’s practice with a shoulder injury of uncertain severity. Linebacker Zach Whitley has been somewhat limited the first two days due to cramps.

» Tuesday’s best play can be credited to Myles Jack, who snatched a remarkable interception during one-on-one drills.

Matched up with 5-foot-6 receiver Ahmaad Harris, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker quickly turned back to cut off a short route. Jack looked a step behind or so when quarterback Jerry Neuheisel released his pass — maybe enough for a pass deflection — but found another gear and comfortably got both hands on the interception.

» Receiver Eldridge Massington also contributed his own share of head-turning moments. The redshirt freshman backed up some of the praise he’d received from quarterback Brett Hundley, making several impressive catches on Tuesday.

Most notable was one play that saw him lay out, fully extended, while being defended by top cornerback Fabian Moreau. Massington got his hands under the ball before he landed, though it was close enough to warrant a video review in a real-game situation.

He also had a leaping catch, and another touchdown grab he tipped to himself while being guarded by Moreau.

» Massington also said after practice that he ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash after spring camp. Though he was a track athlete in high school, it was his first time running a true 40-yard dash.

He actually ran the 40-yard dash as part of a competition against Hundley, but he declined to say how fast the quarterback ran.

» Massington cranked up the hyperbole when praising true freshman wideout Alex Van Dyke, calling him a “young Randy Moss.”

The four-star newcomer has the biggest frame in the receiving corps and could fill out impressively over the next two years. For now, it’s difficult to see him making a major impact in a deep position group.

» Kenny Orjioke likely still has the lead to start at outside linebacker on Aug. 30, but both Deon Hollins and Aaron Wallace got some looks in first-string packages on Tuesday.

Hollins arrived at UCLA in 2013 as a pass-rushing specialist, but worked on his coverage skills this offseason and dropped back at times this week.

» Defensive ends Owamagbe Odighizuwa and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner both worked out a bit with outside linebackers. Being a fifth-year senior, Odighizuwa naturally looked much more comfortable there than Tuioti-Mariner, a true freshman.

» Sophomore safety Tahaan Goodman has carried over the momentum he generated during spring camp. On Tuesday, he broke up passes all over the field, and smoothly picked off reserve quarterback Mike Fafaul during 11-on-11s.

It looked unfair to have him matched up against reserve receiver Tyler Scott, which happened often.

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  • VB

    So pumped for football!