Woods "not getting better," sits out practice

Already hindered by lingering ankle injury, sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods hurt his shoulder twice against Washington.

LOS ANGELES – Coming off his worst game of the season after catching two passes for five yards against Washington, getting wide receiver Robert Woods more involved would seem to be an integral part of USC's game plan Saturday night at No. 4 Oregon.

Instead, the Trojans are preparing for the possibility of playing without Woods after the sophomore did not practice Wednesday.

Woods, a candidate for All-America honors and semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, has been hampered by a lingering ankle injury all season long. He also had an elbow injury at the start of the year and is now dealing with a shoulder injury.

Head coach Lane Kiffin decided it was in the best interest of all to sit Woods and get him some much-needed rest.

"If you just look at the last two games and you look at yesterday in practice, he's going the wrong direction," Kiffin said. "If we just keep practicing (him), even though we've limited his practice, he's not getting better. Hopefully this will help. If he can't go this week, at least the time off and the weekend off, hopefully he'll be back close to full speed for UCLA."

No USC offensive skill player has touched the ball more than Woods. His 92 receptions are fourth most in the nation, resulting in 1,126 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also has six rushing attempts, 12 punt returns and 17 kick returns.

"He's just worn down," Kiffin said. "The kid's trying to do everything that he can. When you have an ankle and a shoulder, you can't generate much power. A lot of kids wouldn't even be playing right now. He just keeps throwing himself back in there."

The shoulder injury was aggravated twice against Washington, as Woods blocked for receiver Marqise Lee on an 88-yard kick return touchdown and a reverse negated by penalty.

"Most people would come out," Kiffin said. "He chose to go right back to the huddle. That's just who he is. But at the same time, we've got to protect our team. If he can't play faster, we've got to play the other guys.

"We've got service-team corners that he can't run by right now."

Wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore expressed confidence that Woods would play Saturday night.

"He's a tough kid and he'll fight through it. Expectations are still the same," Gilmore said. "But he'll be ready to go, make no mistake about that."

If Woods cannot play, the burden of carrying the passing offense would fall on Lee, a true freshman who has caught a touchdown in seven of the past eight games.

Gilmore said Lee is becoming a more complete player, citing his block on running back Curtis McNeal's 79-yard rushing touchdown against the Huskies.

"He understands that there is more to it than catching the ball," Gilmore said.

Redshirt senior Brandon Carswell, redshirt junior Brice Butler and redshirt freshman Kyle Prater would also be in line for larger roles.

"That's why these guys practice hard all year long," Kiffin said. "They'll get their chance."

Kiffin said it would be too late to move running back George Farmer, who starred at Gardena (Calif.) Serra alongside Woods and Lee, back to wide receiver.

"He's just learning the stuff back there and coming back from injury," Kiffin said. "Going back to the timing out there is just too hard to do."

Quick Hits
-Defensive tackle DaJohn Harris (ankle) and left tackle Matt Kalil (neck) did not practice, while defensive tackle Christian Tupou (knee) was very limited, Kiffin said.

Linebacker Dion Bailey suffered a stinger during practice, but returned.

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