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USC REPORT

Knee Infection Leaves Simmons Questionable

UP NEXT FOR USC at Colorado (1-1) Saturday, 12:30 PDT, Ch. 7

September 12, 2002|Gary Klein

Melvin Simmons, a starting linebacker for USC, could miss or be slowed for Saturday's game against Colorado after being hospitalized for an infection in his knee.

Simmons was taken to USC-University Hospital Tuesday night after practice. He missed Wednesday's workout and remained in the hospital while receiving intravenous antibiotics.

Simmons redshirted last season after transferring from Washington State, where he was a starter for the Cougars. Simmons made five tackles in the Trojans' opener against Auburn and suffered a mild concussion.

Redshirt sophomore Lee Webb worked in Simmons' place Wednesday with middle linebacker Mike Pollard and strong-side linebacker Matt Grootegoed.

Sophomore Bobby Otani would back up Webb if Simmons does not play or is slowed against Colorado.

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Winston Justice turns 18 on Saturday and will probably celebrate by becoming the first true freshman to start on the offensive line for USC since Travis Claridge and Faaesea Mailo started against Notre Dame in 1996.

Redshirt junior Eric Torres, who started the opener against Auburn at right tackle, was told by coaches Wednesday to concentrate on playing right guard, meaning Justice will almost certainly start at tackle.

Justice and Torres worked side-by-side with the first-unit offense Wednesday.

"It's helpful with Torres at guard," Justice said. "He's been here four years, so he helps me out a lot."

Senior Zach Wilson was expected to start at right guard this season, but he strained his left foot on the first day of practice and only participated in limited drills since returning Monday. Freshman Fred Matua replaced Wilson until he suffered a bruised knee a few days before the opener. Fifth-year senior Derek Graf started against Auburn and alternated with Matua, who is still nursing the injury.

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Approximately 50 firefighters and police officers attended practice and dinner at the invitation of Coach Pete Carroll in observance of last year's Sept. 11 tragedy.

"Living a college life and in that kind of setting right now, [the players] might not be as aware as they need to be of what's going on and how significant a day this really is," Carroll said. "We were just trying to respect the day."

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Senior Chad Pierson, who sat out the opener because of a strained hamstring, will start against Colorado, Carroll said.... Cornerback Ronald Nunn practiced with a cast on his right hand because of a broken right thumb suffered Tuesday. Nunn said he felt soreness but was otherwise unaffected.... The Trojans will practice without pads today and will travel Friday to Boulder, Colo., where they will conduct a walk-through at Folsom Field.... Jennifer Fertig, the daughter of former USC quarterback, assistant coach and assistant athletic director Craig Fertig, died of Epstein-Barr virus on Tuesday at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach. She was 31. A memorial service will be held Wednesday at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar.

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