USC vs. UCLA injury report: Velus Jones out for rivalry game

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Wide receiver and kick returner Velus Jones Jr. will miss the USC vs. UCLA rivalry game, while running back Vavae Malepeai is set to return.

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For the third week in a row, the Trojans have had a wide receiver go down with an ankle sprain. Unlike Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns, whose sprains were mild enough to continue playing, Velus Jones Jr. will not be able to suit up this weekend.

Jones Jr. suffered a high ankle sprain against Cal and has not practiceed all week, according to head coach Clay Helton.

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Fortunately, USC is expecting to have Kyle Ford available to back up Michael Pittman. He did not play against Cal because of a back problem.

While Jones Jr. does provide the Trojans depth at wide receiver, his absence will be most clearly felt on kick returns. He has been USC’s primary returner all season. The Trojans have taken a look at Kenan Christon, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Adonis Otey as potential replacements this week, Helton said.

There was better news for running back Vavae Malepeai, who has been on the cusp of returning from a knee sprain for the last few weeks. Helton said Malepeai is “looking more towards helping us than not” after practicing throughout the week.

With Malepeai back available, the Trojans will have three healthy scholarship backs for the first time in weeks, including Kenan Christon and Stephen Carr.

At linebacker, a knee injury is likely to keep Palaie Gaoteote out for another week though. Helton called him a “long shot” to play against UCLA. He has been doing rehab all week but has been unable to practice.

The Trojans will also be without one of their key safety valves in the secondary. Chase Williams, back up safety and nickelback, will miss multiple weeks with a mid foot sprain, Helton revealed Thursday.

Greg Johnson returned from a concussion last week, so he is still in line to start at nickelback, while Talanoa Hufanga and Isaiah Pola-Mao are good to go at safety. Should anything happen to one of those three, USC will turn to true freshman nickelback Kaulana Makaula or safety C.J. Pollard.

USC football injury report

    • DB Max Williams (foot)
    • DL Jacob Lichtenstein (calf)
    • LB Jordan Iosefa (knee)
    • LB Solomon Tuliaupupu (foot)
    • OLB Hunter Echols (shoulder)
    • OL Andrew Vorhees (foot)
    • QB JT Daniels (knee)
    • WR Munir McClain (knee)
    • WR Bru McCoy (illness)
  • OUT:
    • DB Chase Williams (foot)
    • LB Palaie Gaoteote (ankle/knee)
    • LB Tuasivi Nomura (undisclosed)
    • OL Clayton Bradley (undisclosed)
    • OL Liam Jimmons (elbow)
    • OL Brett Neilon (calf)
    • RB Markese Stepp (foot)
    • TE Ethan Rae (knee)
    • WR Velus Jones (ankle)
    • RB Vavae Malepeai (knee)
    • WR Tyler Vaughns (ankle)

UCLA football injury report

    • DL Martin Andrus (undisclosed)
    • LB Tyree Thompson (foot)
    • OL Michael Alves (undisclosed)
    • QB Colson Yankoff (ineligible)
    • WR Theo Howard (leg)
    • LB Bo Calvert (suspension)
    • LB Elijah Wade (undisclosed)
    • DB Quentin Lake (hand)

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