Anderson makes quick return

Running back C.J. Anderson practiced Tuesday with his left hand in a cast, returning from an injury that had been expected to sideline him for the rest of spring.

BERKELEY, Calif. – Spring practice was supposed to be over for California running back C.J. Anderson after dislocating his thumb, an assessment anyone who saw the picture on Twitter of his grotesquely swollen left hand would have had to agree with.

"I didn't see the picture," offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Michalczik said. "I don't know if I want to."

And yet Anderson was at Witter Rugby Field on Tuesday practicing, albeit with a large cast he will be wearing for the next six weeks to prevent further injury.

"I came out here today, had a lot of one-hand catches, a lot of good carries, a lot of good open runs," he said. "I'm just improving and trying to get better every day."

Anderson was hurt during a live drill Saturday when he was tackled by defensive back Josh Hill.

"It was a regular tackle. I was watching the film. Josh, he just put his helmet right on my thumb," said Anderson, who was quick to note he did not fumble on the play.

The injury, the first of its kind Anderson has suffered, had the redshirt senior "freaking out." But after being taken to a hospital, he was sedated and doctors were able to pop his thumb back into place with no structural or ligament damage.

In an instant, Anderson went from fearing the worst to preparing to play again.

"The way it was out and sticking out, how nasty it looked, I thought it was broke," he said. "Next thing you know I'm talking to (football athletic trainer) Wes (McGaugh) and Wes is like, ‘You want to play with a cast on?' I'm a running back. I can run the ball. All I need is one hand and I'm good."

Assistant coach Ron Gould might use the opportunity to try and break Anderson's tendency to overly rely on his left hand to carry the ball. As Anderson noted, "Coach G has been trying to break that habit for a while."

Considering how much Anderson has improved since arriving at Cal last summer, it likely won't be an issue much longer.

Anderson played in all 13 games after signing out of Laney College, rushing for 345 yards and eight touchdowns, but admitted he was out of shape most of last season. His best games came in November, rushing for 96 yards against Oregon State and scoring three touchdowns at Arizona State.

The offseason has been dedicated to continuing that progression.

"I worked hard all during the winter to lose weight just to get back to the person that they recruited me as. I'm way down. I was 215, 218 when I got here," he said. "I'm trying to even drop five more pounds just to be 200 so I can enjoy eating."

That will include any dessert that comes with the post-game meal, a treat that Gould had to keep away from the Bears' second-leading rusher to get him in better condition.

"During the season when you get on the plane you get a bag, a sandwich and candy, Coach G used to open my bag and take my candy, take my cookies," Anderson said. "Now I get to enjoy those."

He could also enjoy a larger role behind incumbent Isi Sofele because of his hard work this spring.

"We've put him in different positions and he has done nothing but take it and attack it and done well with everything we've asked him to do," Michalczik said. "He has really said, ‘Hey, I got to be on the field.'"

Maynard Out Again
Quarterback Zach Maynard missed practice because of academics for the third time this spring, leaving redshirt junior Allan Bridgford to see most of the first-team reps.

Quick Hits
-Working without a true fullback because of injuries, the Bears have experimented with running backs at the position this spring. Cal head coach Jeff Tedford said redshirt junior Dasarte Yarnway could end up playing there fulltime.

"That could be a position for him if he gets the feel for it," said Tedford, noting that blocking in the ground game is "something you need turns at."

-Tedford praised Jackson Bouza and Maurice Harris as standing out at wide receiver.

"I think he is probably the most consistent guy we have had this spring," said Tedford of Bouza, who caught a 34-yard touchdown Saturday.

Regarding Harris, Tedford said: "I see a lot of improvement in Maurice. Maurice is coming on, playing a lot faster."

-Tight end Spencer Hagan (hand) may not need surgery, Tedford said.

-Running back Daniel Lasco was limited by a tight hamstring, Tedford said.


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