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USC receiver Robert Woods to sit out spring practice

All-American's recovery from ankle surgery in December has not gone smoothly and Coach Lane Kiffin wants to ensure that the junior is healthy for the fall.

March 20, 2012|By Gary Klein
  • USC wide receiver Robert Woods will sit out of spring practice as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery.
USC wide receiver Robert Woods will sit out of spring practice as he continues… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

USC receiver Robert Woods' comeback from off-season ankle surgery has not gone as anticipated and he will be sidelined all of spring practice, Coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday.

Woods, an All-American, did not practice the first week of workouts but was expected to rejoin the Trojans for drills after their nine-day break for spring vacation.

"We thought he would be almost full strength by now, doing everything," Kiffin said.

Woods injured his right ankle playing pick-up basketball last spring. He caught 111 passes last season despite being unable to practice much of the time because of pain and swelling in his ankle and also shoulder and elbow injuries.

He had ankle surgery in December, but a recent MRI exam revealed problems.

"Nothing major," Woods said, "just a little bit of inflammation."

Kiffin, however, said Woods has been noticeably limping after light workouts on the sideline, so he will sit out the last four weeks of practice.

The goal is to make sure Woods is healthy for the fall.

"We have to get it right," Kiffin said. "No matter what."

Tre Madden moves

Sophomore Tre Madden was moved from linebacker to tailback to shore up depth.

Senior Curtis McNeal and redshirt sophomore D.J. Morgan are the only experienced tailbacks. Redshirt freshman Javorious Allen has been sidelined because of a hamstring injury.

The 6-foot-2, 226-pound Madden played quarterback in a Wildcat formation at Mission Viejo High. He said he welcomed the move to offense after Kiffin proposed it over the weekend.

"I was excited because I always wanted to run the ball," Madden said. "But I was recruited here as a linebacker so it's kind of shocking."

Madden made 15 tackles in 12 games last season and started against Colorado.

During off-season testing, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, Kiffin said. His size and speed, coupled with the Trojans' depth problem at tailback, precipitated the move.

"We don't have that right now," Kiffin said of a big back, "so if he can give us that, that would be great. And if he doesn't, then he can just go back."

Running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu had been eyeing Madden as a possible running back and was pleased with his first-day performance.

"It's not Christmas yet for me," Polamalu said, "but it was nice to have some depth."

Tackle shuffle

After playing right tackle in the first week of workouts, sophomore Aundrey Walker is getting a look on the left side.

Kevin Graf has moved from left tackle to right tackle, where he started every game last season.

The switch is expected to be in place for at least this week.

"It wasn't out of poor performance by Kevin," Kiffin said. "It was just 'Let's see what it looks like.' "

Quick hits

Receiver Marqise Lee and defensive backs Nickell Robey and Tony Burnett will compete in the long jump Saturday at the Trojan Invitational track meet, which includes defending NCAA men's and women's champion Texas A&M, Oregon, Michigan and others. The players also are expected to participate in a scrimmage later at the Coliseum, Kiffin said. ... Tailback Amir Carlisle, who transferred from USC to Notre Dame, suffered a broken ankle last week and will be sidelined for spring practice. The NCAA has granted Carlisle eligibility for the 2012 season. "Very unfortunate," Kiffin said of the injury. "We're happy for him that he got cleared to play this year. ... At least [the injury] happened early enough where he'll be back." ... USC is hoping the NCAA similarly grants defensive back Josh Shaw immediate eligibility after transferring from Florida to be closer to family. Shaw is in school and attending workouts but will be sidelined because of a rib injury suffered while lifting weights, Kiffin said.

gary.klein@latimes.com

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