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Lockett wants to play right now

September 06, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

UCLA strong safety Bret Lockett watched from the sidelines Monday as the Bruins beat Tennessee and tried to be involved. He was limited to offering advice.

It was not completely satisfying, but it helped.

"Initially, I came out for warmups and saw the ESPN camera over the field, I was like, 'Wow, this is not a game to miss,' " said Lockett, who was suspended for the game because of academic reasons. "It was hard. But as the game wore on, I felt like I had to help get the guys through this. I started talking to everybody, special teams, defense."

Next week, Lockett can speak with his actions.

Lockett moved right back in with the first-team defense this week, as the Bruins, who don't play this week, began initial preparations to play 15th-ranked Brigham Young on Sept. 13.

"I really wish we had a game this week," Lockett said. "But I guess it is good for me. I didn't take a lot of reps the last couple weeks. I can get back into shape."

Lockett made one start last season, against BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl, and was used extensively throughout the season as Chris Horton's backup.

"This week is a chance for Bret to reconnect with everybody," defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. "He's been around practice, but we were getting our other guys ready [for Tennessee]. Missing Bret didn't kill us, but he'll blend right back in."

Rahim Moore, who started in place of Lockett, credited Lockett for helping him through the Tennessee game. Moore played free safety, with Aaron Ware moving into Lockett's strong safety spot.

Moore recovered a Tennessee fumble on the UCLA six-yard line.

"Bret was talking to me throughout the game," Moore said. "He's my daddy, big brother. He looks out for me, and when I'm wrong, he tells me I'm wrong. When I'm right, he lets me know I'm right.

"All game, he was telling me, 'Rahim, this is like practice but faster. You're ready for this.' "

Back to back

With tailback Kahlil Bell recovering from a high ankle sprain, and Chane Moline and Raymond Carter -- Bell's backups -- fighting through minor dings, the Bruins are getting freshmen Aundre Dean and Johnathan Franklin up to speed.

Dean was listed as the fourth tailback for the opener, though he did not play.

"You just never know, so you have to be ready at all times," Dean said. "You have to show it on the practice field so they know you can do it."

As for what he has learned, Dean said, "This level is so fast, you don't have a lot time to think. If you make a mistake, you have to make a mistake going full speed. If you don't, you'll kill the play and get yourself hurt."

Franklin has risen in the eyes of Bruins coaches, as his breakaway speed is hard to ignore. He was on the scout team before the Tennessee game but has been getting reps with Dean on the second team this week. Franklin scooted around the corner on a long touchdown run during Friday's practice.

"If the opportunity comes, you have to make the best of it," Franklin said.

As for the possibility of Bell playing, Coach Rick Neuheisel said, "To listen to Kahlil, he'll be there. I'm wise enough to know that the mind will sometimes say what the body won't do. Every time I try to dunk I try to remember that. Hopefully he's right and we'll be ready."

Odds and split ends

Wide receivers Nelson Rosario (knee) and Jerry Johnson (toe) sat out practice because of injuries Friday. Neuheisel said he expected both to be back next week. Linebacker Joshua Edwards sat out practice because of a foot injury. . . . Linebacker Reggie Carter (knee) suited up but was limited to individual drills. . . . The Bruins will take today and Sunday off and return to practice Monday.


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