Maurice Drew said he's "going to probably be 110%" for the USC game on Saturday at the Coliseum, but the UCLA junior tailback appeared closer to 10% Tuesday after being held out of contact drills in practice.
Drew said he was limited as a precaution "because of how my body is feeling," particularly his knee. The 5-foot-8, 205-pounder said he has experienced pain in his knee since the Washington game on Oct. 1.
"It would get better sometimes and sometimes it would just be terrible," said Drew, who has rushed for 816 yards and 12 touchdowns. "Each week it would just be different. Arizona and Stanford, it was at its [worst] and it started getting better after that."
It appears that Drew will be at less than full strength against the Trojans for a second consecutive season. Last season, hobbled by an ankle injury, Drew carried the ball only twice.
"This year I'm not as banged up as I was a year ago," said Drew, who expected to return to practice today. "I still have a knee injury but that's it. It was a lot of other things happening last year."
As if returning punts and running the ball against USC weren't enough of a workload, Coach Karl Dorrell said he might also ask his star running back to return kickoffs. As a freshman, Drew returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against the Trojans.
"It's something we may consider to do, but it's still up in the air," Dorrell said. "We'll just see how the game unfolds. He's ready to do both [return punts and kickoffs], so there may be a chance that could happen."
Dorrell said senior linebacker Justin London, back at practice the last two days after missing the last three games because of an ankle injury, was "like a bull in a China shop right now. He's trying to wreak havoc on everything that he sees, and it's fun to see.... He's playing and having spirited practice sessions."
Sophomore tackle Brian Abraham sustained an ankle injury during practice and limped off the field. "I don't know the extent of it, but we'll see," Dorrell said. "Hopefully, it's not too significant [and] it's just scar tissue, but we'll see what the doctors say." ... Sophomore tailback Chris Markey was held out of practice after landing on his knee in practice Monday.... Freshman linebacker John Hale was limited in practice because of irritation in his neck.... Senior center Mike McCloskey underwent another MRI exam, which showed that his shoulder had not healed sufficiently to allow him to play Saturday.