After missing the last month of the season with an ankle sprain, UCLA wide… (Harry How / Getty Images )
Wide receiver Nelson Rosario, who was counted on to be a playmaker for UCLA, has spent the last month hobbling around with a high ankle sprain.
Rosario seemed to be closer to full strength during practice Monday, snagging a few passes and looking more like the receiver UCLA hoped to have.
"The pain isn't gone all the way, but it's good enough to run," Rosario said. "Being pain-free the rest of the season is not going to happen. It's football. As long as I don't roll it again, I'll be fine."
Whether Rosario has an effect on Thursday's game at Washington remains to be seen.
The Bruins have lacked numbers at wide receiver the last two games. Still, that did allow others to improve their standing.
Randall Carroll had nine receptions for 136 yards in the two games. That included three catches on the Bruins' game-winning field goal drive against Oregon State. Josh Smith had six receptions for 84 yards in the two games.
"If anything, it helped some guys get some really good game experience," wide receivers coach Reggie Moore said. "Randall had a couple decent games. The opportunity was there to mature a little bit."
Rosario was able to get into a couple plays against Oregon State, but did little.
"I think we saw a little of the old Rosario tonight" in practice, Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "He's not 100%, but he is getting closer. We hope he can return to being the game-changer he once was."
Before the injury, Rosario was an enigma. His 6-foot-5, 218-pound frame gave him the look of a big-play receiver. However, he had 14 receptions for only 137 yards and no touchdowns in the five games that preceded the injury.
The hurt Locker
There are two big questions heading into the Washington game: Will Huskies quarterback Jake Locker play and will it rain?
Neuheisel has a carved-in-stone answer for both, saying, "I'll tell you two things. No.1, there is no uncertainty over Jake. He will play. And there is really no uncertainty about rain, as well. It will. I lived there long enough to know. It might not rain all throughout the game, but there will be rain."
Locker said after practice Monday that he intends to play.
Linebacker Patrick Larimore said he will have surgery on his left shoulder next week. Larimore separated his shoulder against Oregon on Oct. 21. An MRI exam revealed several small tears in the labrum.
Larimore sought a second opinion, hoping to be able to play again this season, "but the doctor told me that if I played, there was a 90% chance I could do permanent damage to the shoulder."
There will be a five-to-six month rehabilitation period. Neuheisel said it was unlikely Larimore would be allowed contact during spring practice.
Ryan Hofmeister, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound linebacker from Riverside Community College, committed to UCLA on Monday.