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Ware's Injury Concerns Dorrell

October 22, 2003|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell said it's "unlikely" cornerback Matt Ware will play Saturday night against Arizona State.

Of bigger concern is whether Ware, a junior who is the Bruins' best pass defender and one of their top NFL prospects, will be sidelined for several more weeks.

Ware's sprained left ankle, which forced him to miss Saturday's 23-20 overtime victory over California, was wrapped in a protective boot Tuesday, and Ware did not practice. Instead of improving over the weekend, the injury appeared to worsen, so much so that the UCLA medical staff ordered additional tests on the ankle.

"There's still a lot of discomfort, it's still really sore, it hasn't gotten better," Dorrell said.

"I don't know if he's had a setback, but it hasn't responded like we thought it would."

Keith Short did a commendable job filling in for Ware against Cal, but with the toughest part of UCLA's schedule ahead -- four of the last five games are against Arizona State, Washington State, Oregon and USC -- Ware's absence could be more noticeable.

"There's always a concern when you don't respond," Dorrell said, when asked whether it was possible Ware's injury could sideline him for an extended period. "It still hurts. We just have to see what the issues are."

Ware, who was reluctant to discuss the injury, said he has undergone strength tests and an ultrasound. He wasn't sure whether he would undergo an MRI test, but when asked if he was worried about the injury, Ware shook his head and said, "No."


Another of UCLA's best defensive players, senior tackle Rodney Leisle, is doubtful for the Arizona State game because of a deep bruise in his left clavicle. Leisle missed practice Tuesday and was sore.

"I get hit in the shoulder all the time, and my shoulder is screwed-up," Leisle said. "It's getting better every day, but you know how deep bone bruises are. They take a while to heal. That's what I'm waiting for. I'm not gonna go until I can't go anymore."

Leisle played last season against San Diego State with a stress reaction in his foot. The following week, he fractured the foot and missed the next five games.

"I need to be fully ready to play," Leisle said. "I can't be a little sore."

Compounding the situation on the line, Asi Faoa, one of the players who backs up Leisle, aggravated a left ankle injury in practice Tuesday and could be slowed Saturday. If Leisle can't play, C.J. Niusulu would play a lot in his place.


Sophomore quarterback Drew Olson took his demotion in stride. There appeared to be no bitter feelings toward the coaching staff after Dorrell announced Monday that sophomore Matt Moore would start at quarterback against the Sun Devils, even though Olson helped guide UCLA to four consecutive victories.

"It wasn't something I wanted to hear, but I trust the coach, I respect the coach, it's his decision and we'll go from here," Olson said. "If he says a guy doesn't lose his job because of injury, I respect that."

Olson said he "hasn't even thought about transferring or anything like that. I'll remain a Bruin."

Moore, who was knocked out of the season opener at Colorado because of a bruised knee, wasn't necessarily relieved by Dorrell's decision, even though it bodes well for his junior and senior seasons at UCLA.

"As far as the future, dude, I live one day at a time," Moore said.

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