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USC's Marqise Lee practices, plans to play at Notre Dame

All-American receiver works out for the first time since injuring a knee two weeks ago. 'I'm coming around pretty good,' he says.

October 15, 2013|By Gary Klein

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USC All-American receiver Marqise Lee practiced Tuesday for the first time since suffering a knee injury more than two weeks ago and said he would be ready to play Saturday against Notre Dame.

"I'm coming around pretty good," said Lee, who participated in most of the 21/2-hour workout. "By Saturday, I think I'll be 100%."

On Monday, interim Coach Ed Orgeron had listed Lee as questionable.


"We'll see," Orgeron said. "I didn't know he was going to come out and do the things that he did. Obviously, he looked a little bit better."

Lee sounded eager to return to Notre Dame Stadium, where he caught two passes for 36 yards as a freshman in 2011. The Trojans defeated the Fighting Irish, 31-17.

"I could have done better," he said, "and this is my opportunity to actually get it done."

Last season, Lee caught a school-record 118 passes, 14 for touchdowns. In five games this season, he has 30 receptions and only one touchdown.

He said he "could have done better" catching balls he has dropped.

"The game's not easy for me," he said. "It's not like a team is [playing man to man] and you've just got single coverage. It's double teams, you've got to beat defenses. It's kind of a struggle."

But with Nelson Agholor having stepped up against Arizona and other receivers expected to do the same as the season progresses, Lee said he was not worried and would continue to work.

Lee initially envisioned the worst-case scenario when he injured his left knee returning a punt in the Trojans' 62-41 loss at Arizona State on Sept. 28.

"I was scared," he said.

The injury was later diagnosed as a knee sprain.

Lee has remained in contact with former coach Lane Kiffin, who was fired after the loss at Arizona State.

"He still checks up on me here and there," Lee said. "He still supports me 100%."

Reaching out

Quarterback Cody Kessler confirmed that he texted Kiffin on Friday after his emotional postgame remarks in praise of Orgeron the night before were portrayed by some as a slam of Kiffin.

"I didn't mean it that way at all," Kessler said.

Kessler said he told Kiffin that he was thankful for everything he did for him. He said Kiffin responded by saying he knew that and that he appreciated the text.

"I was excited after the game and I was trying to give Coach O his props," Kessler said.

"At the same time, Coach Kiffin did the same thing for us and he meant a lot to me too."

Quick hits

Cornerback Anthony Brown, who has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury in the opener against Hawaii, appears on track to start against Notre Dame. ... Tailbacks Tre Madden and Ty Isaac, tight end Xavier Grimble and linebacker Morgan Breslin did not practice because of injuries.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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