Woods Runs Free...Almost

After watching practice from the sidelines during spring drills and summer workouts, All-American receiver Robert Woods is the mend and back on the field...

USC receiver Robert Woods is ready to run free, but head coach Lane Kiffin isn't quite ready to let him go.

Woods was inactive over spring ball and most of voluntary summer throwing sessions recovering from offseason ankle surgery.

He has gradually increased his load over the first four days of fall camp, participating in nearly every drill on Thursday.

"I felt fast," Woods said, "I felt back to normal, just catches and touchdowns. It feels good to be back."

Though not quite back to his normal self, Woods did display the ability Trojan faithful have come to expect, as he caught a ball and sprinted 30 yards for a touchdown at Thursday's practice.

"I had to adjust to the man," he explained, "then it was a good ball and to see that I had a 30 yard sprint to the end zone, so I finally got to run and feel free."

Woods may have felt free, but Kiffin hasn't quite let him out of the "limited status" jail he's been trapped in, as the two go back and forth on how much Woods should be participating.

"Yeah, it's going to be like that," Woods said. "I feel like. I'm trying to go and try to get reps, but he just wants to play it safe."

"I wouldn't say that," Kiffin said when asked if Woods was back to his normal self. "But that's the best he's looked since last year or so. It's good to see, push him a little more, put him where the balls are going so he'd have to make five or six plays in a row and he responded well."

The Trojans will hold their first scrimmage of fall camp Friday in the Coliseum. As of post-practice on Thursday, Kiffin was undecided if Woods will be participating.

"I don't know," he said. "We're going to meet tonight and figure out everybody's reps."

Woods will continue to wear a fitted ankle brace, which he estimates to weigh between only two to three ounces, throughout the season. Despite wearing the brace, he says he doesn't think about or even feel any pain in his surgically repaired ankle when playing.

The biggest hurdle to his recovery is getting back into what he is calling "track shape."

"I mean I'm in football shape," he said. "I'm trying to get into track shape so that I can run forever, so I've just got to get back to track shape."

Track shape, so Kiffin will finally allow him to continue to run free.

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