Josh Pinkard - Back on Track

Free Safety Josh Pinkard had his season cut cruely short suffering a knee injury in the Trojans first game of the season in 2006. Pinkard is back on the field, and looks like he's ready to be a major contributor again.

Josh Pinkard had been a versatile member of the USC defense in his first two years. He did not redshirt as a freshman, getting time in as a backup safety and on special teams in 2004. He was a reserve safety as a sophomore before starting the Trojans' last six games as at cornerback.

Pinkard began the 2006 campaign as the starting free safety. He had six tackles in that game before tearing ligaments in his knee and missing the rest of the season. Pinkard is showing no ill effects of the injury during USC's first week of summer camp, and he has been one of the standout performers on defense.

Saturday, he ran with the number one defensive unit, and he talk a little about the long road back and how gratifying it is to be able to contribute.

"It felt pretty good," answered Pinkard when asked how he felt out there with the first unit defense. "You just have to be prepared for everything mentally. We have a nice rotation, and everyone gets a chance to go with the ones. That's when you really get a chance to step up and show you're prepared to play with the ones."

After playing so well in his first two seasons then getting off to a fast start against Arkansas last year, it was painful for Pinkard to have to sit and watch. Something he hadn't done while at USC. He's ecstatic to be back on the practice field.

"It felt great to be back out there. Just sitting back and watching the guys play and watching your teammates go hard every week at practice," Pinkard paused shaking his head slightly. "I felt honored actually, to put the pads back on and step back on the field."

Practice observers wouldn't notice any ill effects of Pinkard's knee injury, and he's eager to keep getting better.

"There's always things you can work on to get better. You can't get perfect at this game. So there's always something you need to work on. I just need to stay healthy, keep working on the body and stay strong. Everything else will come within that."

For personal goals on the season, Pinkard is keeping it simple.

"I just want to get back out there, and show that I'm still the old player that I was, and get back on track."

If the early returns of summer practice are any indication of what the USC Trojans can expect from Josh Pinkard, the Trojan faithful can expect to see the old Josh Pinkard, only even a little hungrier after having football taken away from him last year.

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