Bruins running back Jordon James scores against Nevada in the third quarter… (Harry How / Getty Images )
UCLA running back Jordon James may be back this week.
Or he may not.
Coach Jim Mora said James' availability would be a "game-time decision" against Colorado on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. James suffered an ankle injury against Utah on Oct. 3, but was able to stay through the entire practice the last two days.
"He looked pretty good today," said Mora.
James, a junior, was the nation's fifth-leading rusher after three games. He is still the Bruins' leading rusher with 463 yards, despite sitting out 21/2 games. He is also the best pass blocker among the running backs.
UCLA labored to run the ball against California and Stanford after James was injured. The running game enjoyed a renaissance against Oregon last week, accounting for 219 yards. Paul Perkins, James' replacement, had 93 yards in that game.
Mora said that Perkins has "benefited from getting to start" and the other running backs "have done a good job." But he is eager to get James back.
"I think we probably missed him more than we thought we would," Mora said. "When you take the fifth-leading rusher in the nation out of your package, it hurts. I don't know if we anticipated that being the case.
"Jordon is an open-field elusive runner. When you have seen that and then you don't see it, it looks better when you go back and look at it again [on tape]."
James is unlikely to carry a big load should he play against the woeful Buffaloes. The hope is to get him reacclimated to game situations before the stretch run against Arizona, Washington, Arizona State and USC.
Colorado receiver Paul Richardson probably will play Saturday, a week after injuring his ankle.
Richardson was wearing a walking boot earlier in the week, prompting Mora to say, "It would be really a great thing if he had a boot on Saturday." Richardson ditched the boot Wednesday.
"I read where he will probably play," Mora said Thursday. "He is fun to watch on film. He's not fun to think about playing against. He is an explosive football player."
Richardson has 50 receptions for 914 yards in seven games. He is third in the nation in yards per game, averaging 130.6. He has seven of Colorado's 22 touchdowns.
At 6 feet 1, Richardson can be a problem for smaller cornerbacks.
"For me, jumping with a taller receiver is not the smartest thing," said UCLA cornerback Ishmael Adams, who is listed at 5-8. "I have to allow him to go up and, at the point where he is not on the ground yet, challenge him. He has to come down and that's when I can go up and explode through the ball and disrupt it out of his hands."
Richardson originally signed with UCLA. He and UCLA teammates Shaquille Richardson and Josh Shirley were arrested on suspicion of felony theft in 2010. They were dismissed from the team and later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
Shaquille Richardson went to Arizona. Shirley went to Washington.
Mora said that linebacker Eric Kendricks (shoulder) would be a game-time decision. Tackle Simon Goines (knee), running back Steven Manfro (ankle) and tackle Conor McDermott (shoulder) will not play.