UCLA's defense will walk, and limp, into Corvallis, Ore., to face a challenging Oregon State offense.
The middle of the Bruins' defense took another hit Wednesday, as starting defensive tackle Jerzy Siewierski hobbled off the field on crutches. Siewierski injured his right foot during practice, according to Coach Rick Neuheisel.
"Jerzy tweaked something," Neuheisel said. "We'll find out the significance of it. We'll have to wait and see."
Siewierski was scheduled to be re-examined this morning. Even if he can play, it adds another problem to a defense that has struggled and has key players hurt.
Linebacker Reggie Carter has practiced little the last three weeks, after injuring his left knee against Oregon. He has not missed a game, but his playing time was limited in a 27-13 loss to Arizona on Saturday. Alterraun Verner, the Bruins' top cornerback, suffered a dislocated toe against Arizona and has been held out some in practice this week.
"It's good," Verner said. "It's definitely better than I thought it would be, especially after Saturday."
The Beavers average 400 yards a game. Quarterback Sean Canfield ranks 25th nationally, averaging 247.7 yards a game. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers is 10th nationally, averaging 115.7 yards. Wide receiver James Rodgers (seven receptions a game) is 15th nationally.
Hester to pester?
The Bruins do get cornerback Aaron Hester back. He spent the last two days mostly working in the team's pass defense packages as a nickel and dime back.
Hester wrapped up practice in that nickel role during two-minute drills both days. Hester was the starter before suffering a fractured fibula in the season opener.
"I got to get back with my boys," Hester said. "That's what I started doing."
Hester was cleared to resume full practice more than a week ago, but cornerbacks coach Carnell Lake said he wanted to bring the redshirt freshman along slowly.
"He may have been ready go last week, but I wasn't ready for him to go," Lake said. "I wanted him to get a week under his belt, get him moving again and get him used to contact. Where we placed him in the lineup, he has to make adjustments and understand the coverages. I wanted to look at that."
The Bruins, who had started the same five offensive linemen the first six games, are searching for a right guard after losing Eddie Williams (fractured ankle).
Nick Ekbatani started against Arizona but was called for two false starts, both on third down. He also had a holding penalty, which wiped out a first down at the Arizona 19-yard line.
Ryan Taylor, a community college transfer, may get a shot against Oregon State. Taylor has shared the first-team job with Ekbatani this week.
"I think Ryan Taylor is a good athlete and I think he deserves a chance," offensive line coach Bob Palcic said. "Nick has more experience. We'll take a good look at them tomorrow and make a decision."
Wide receiver Taylor Embree (concussion) and tight end Nate Chandler (concussion) returned to practice Wednesday.
Reserve tackle Nik Abele remained sidelined because of a concussion. He also suffered temporary nerve damage in his neck from a collision with Chandler last week and will be out at least three weeks.