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Aaron Hester gets back on the field for Bruins

The cornerback meets with coaches after being left out of practice on Tuesday.

October 22, 2009|Chris Foster

UCLA cornerback Aaron Hester met with defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough and cornerbacks coach Carnell Lake on Wednesday to discuss why he was left standing on the sideline for most of Tuesday's practice.

Hester, a starter before fracturing a fibula in the season opener, has been conditioning for more than two weeks and was cleared for contact drills this week. After the meeting, Hester spent time with the second unit and was even worked into live action against the scout team.

"It felt good getting back out there," said Hester, a 6-foot-1, 203-pound redshirt freshman. "That's what I was looking for. All I asked for was some reps so I can get a chance to prove myself."

Whether Hester will play Saturday against Arizona remains to be seen, but he said, "It is the coaches' decision. I feel I got my speed and I got my aggression, everything necessary to play."

Lake said he would watch and evaluate. Sheldon Price, a first-year freshman, has started the last three games.

"I need to see more," Lake said. "Today [Hester] got more work. He's rusty on things and we've made some adjustments. He needs to catch up in that regard."

The air around the situation Wednesday appeared less tense than the previous day, when Hester was left out of team drills and stood alone on the sidelines, unsure what the plan was for him. When he wasn't in drills Wednesday, he was at Lake's side.

The meeting, Hester said, cleared things up.

"They told me the reason why I didn't get any reps [Tuesday] was because they wanted me to take small steps," Hester said. "Today I took a bigger step."

Asked why that message wasn't conveyed sooner, Lake said, "In my mind, I just wanted an easy first day. Maybe I should have vocalized that to him. Obviously, everybody seems to think like I needed to vocalize that."

Safety dance

Strong safety Glenn Love spent most of practice with the first team. Tony Dye started all six games at strong safety.

"This week we flipped them, made sure they both got time with the ones and the twos," secondary coach Tim Hundley said. "We needed competition. We need to be more consistent and to make plays. Basically it's tackling. We're capable of doing it and we've done it, but not as consistently as we need to be."

Line change

Guards Stanley Hasiak and Nick Ekbatani have been working to fill in for Eddie Williams (fractured left ankle). But Ekbatani left practice Wednesday after "tweaking his left knee," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. He is expected back at practice today, according to a UCLA official.

Hasiak, though, appears to have the job. He had not played in three weeks until Williams was injured against California on Saturday. He threw a key block that helped spring tailback Johnathan Franklin on a 74-yard touchdown run.

"That last couple weeks, as a backup, I had to make sure I understood everything in the formations," Hasiak said. "I was able to come out prepared when Eddie went down. I have learned to be patient and wait for my time to come, which it did."

Meanwhile, tackle Nik Abele and tight end Nate Chandler collided during kickoff coverage drills and both left practice, Chandler with a concussion and Abele concussion-like symptoms, according to a UCLA e-mail. Abele will also have what was called precautionary X-rays on his neck.


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