USC Football Practice Notes: Chad Wheeler Fully Cleared


USC football found some renewed energy in practice Wednesday and Chad Wheeler was welcomed back to full contact, but other injuries are still taking a toll.

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“We’re going to have ups and downs when it comes to player injuries and whatnot,” Steve Sarkisian told media in the post practice scrum, which revolved mostly around injury updates. “The goal is by next Monday is to have as healthy of a football team as we can possible have moving towards our first game.”

Sarkisian was pleased to have Wheeler back at full speed, allowing Toa Lobendahn to prove even more versatile by spending some time at right tackle on the day, according to Shotgun Spratling. Viane Talamaivao has also returned to full participation on the offensive line.

In particular, the head coach said it makes a difference having the line at closer to full strength because players don’t have to feel like they have to save themselves. Having a fully stocked rotation offers players the luxury of knowing a fresh body can come in when needed.

On the opposite side of the line, Sarkisian noted a number of players who are out or limited right now, including Antwaun Woods who has a shoulder injury, Claude Pelon who sprained his knee last week and Jordan Simmons who has been dealing with swelling in his rehabbed knee as well.

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Sarkisian gave a positive spin on the defensive line situation by pointing out the extra experience it has given players like Noah Jefferson and Jacob Daniel.

“I think these are invaluable reps for some of our younger players,” said Sarkisian, who believes strong depth will be built up by the time the injured players come back.

Elsewhere, the running backs have been banged up with Justin Davis still sitting out and Ronald Jones II missing time for an undisclosed issue. Sarkisian said the freshman running back has not been feeling well.

Tre Madden answered the call Wednesday, earning praise from the head coach for his physical style.

Also missing practice were Ykili Ross and Lamar Dawson on defense, according to Keely Eure. Taylor McNamara hurt his ankle at some point during practice as well, according to Michael Lev.