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UCLA's Kai Maiava tweaks ankle at spring practice

UCLA FOOTBALL FYI

He limps off from a drill, favoring the ankle that he broke last August, but the injury is not considered serious. Greg Capella takes over at center with the first team.

April 07, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA center Kai Maiava injured his left ankle during Thursday's team practice session.
UCLA center Kai Maiava injured his left ankle during Thursday's team… (UCLA )

UCLA coaches had a minor scare during Thursday's practice, as center Kai Maiava limped away from a drill, favoring his left ankle.

Maiava, who broke that ankle last August and missed the season, said that he did not think the injury was serious.

But, he said, "As soon as it happened, I felt the aches and pains coming. There was some throbbing in the front and back of the ankle. We'll rehab it tomorrow, tape it up and be ready to go Saturday."

With Maiava out, Greg Capella took over at center with the first team. Capella was converted from guard last season and struggled with his snaps in practice.

He has shown improvement in that area this spring.

"During the off-season team practices, I would get a quarterback out here and do as many as 75 snaps," Capella said. "I have to focus and not rush it."

His work has been noticed.

"Greg has improved an awful lot," offensive line coach Bob Palcic said. "With Kai Maiava being down now, Greg will get every rep. If he takes advantage of those reps, he'll provide great competition for Kai Maiava."

Red-zone attack

The Bruins prepared for Saturday's scrimmage by working on red zone offense and defense Thursday.

The defense had the better of it, in part because of dropped passes, something that has been prevalent this spring.

"That happens when you install new things," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "There is a lot of thinking and a lot of anticipation."

Wide receiver Taylor Embree said, "Mentally we have been focusing on some other things. But mentally, we can't let that be an excuse."

Bruins receivers work before practice with a gun that fires footballs like a pitching machine in baseball. After practice, players who dropped passes have to do more work with the gun.

Prince cleared

UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince, who is recovering from knee surgery, was cleared to increase his participation in spring practice. His increased workload was delayed one day, though, because of a simple thing.

"I forgot he was available," Neuheisel said. "I told Kevin, you got to remind me."

Prince was limited to individual passing drills. He will now be allowed to participate in seven-on-seven drills.

"My doctor was concerned about quick changes and unexpected movements," Prince said. "One on one is a more controlled environment. He came out and saw what seven-on-seven was and he was fine with it."

Neuheisel said he intended to give Prince the majority of the work in seven-on-seven drills before Saturday's scrimmage.

"The only thing I shouldn't be doing [in seven-on-seven] is sprinting and rolling out," Prince said. "I think I can limit myself from doing that."

Baca examined

Tackle Jeff Baca, who suffered a broken ankle in practice last week, was schedule to see a doctor Thursday to get a better idea how long he will be out.

"They have said six months," Baca said.

That would put Baca out until October.

"It will be six months and then I get ready fast," Baca said.

Baca said eight screws were used to hold the bone together and six will remain.

Etc.

Safety Tevin McDonald, who had been working as the nickel back, was in a walking boot Thursday. Neuheisel said McDonald has a bruised right shinbone and the boot was precautionary.… Running back Jordon James was held out of practice with a minor toe injury.… Defensive end Derrick Bryant returned to practice after missing Tuesday because he was sick.… Johnathan Franklin continues to be impressive at running back. He broke one long touchdown run and powered his way to another touchdown in red zone drills.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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