Tuesday Practice: Good Day for Rey

Mitch Mustain led the offense and Rey Maualuga showed progress on Tuesday as the Trojans prepare to face the Arizona State Sun Devils this Saturday. Look inside for all the news, notes and quotes from Howard Jones Field.

Good Day for Rey

It was a very positive day for USC linebacker Rey Maualuga, who participated in nearly half of Tuesday's practice and received rave reviews for his performance from Pete Carroll.

"Really good news about Rey today. God, Rey looked good today," Carroll said. "He took about half the practice, ran full speed and felt good. That is a really good step forward.

"It's a great step up for him and he's pumped up about getting ready."

While the senior linebacker isn't yet cleared to play, Pete Carroll was very optimistic about his return.

"He's real close," Carroll said. "He looked to me like he could have played today. He's comfortable with the brace and all that so it's a great sign."

Maualuga, along with several other USC players, will meet with team doctors Tuesday night to see if they can get cleared to play against Arizona State.

Getting Vertical

Last Saturday night, and throughout the early season, the Trojans have been a much more explosive offense than in 2007. The emergence of Patrick Turner, Damian Williams and Ronald Johnson as big-play receivers has added greatly to the vertical passing game.

"Ronald (Johnson), Patrick (Turner) and Damian (Williams) have really elevated their game and they look really aggressive downfield when we are throwing the ball to them," Carroll said. "They look very good and we are excited about that."

Carroll maintains the vertical passing game has always been a part of their offense, but it is just more noticeable this season because they are having more success connecting on big plays.

"Our emphasis isn't any different than it has ever been but I think we are better at it right now," said Carroll.

While Mark Sanchez certainly takes more chances than John David Booty, one of the main differences is the mobility and pocket awareness of Sanchez, which allow him more time to take shots downfield.

"Mark has a real knack." Carroll said of the junior quarterback. "He has a knack to stay alive in the rush and he knows where the guys are going to pop open.

"He has real good vision to find people down the field and he has a great arm."

Injury News

Mark Sanchez stretched with the team and did some throwing with the quarterbacks but wasn't able to practice Tuesday. Sanchez, like all of the injured players, will meet with team doctors on Tuesday night.

Offensive lineman Jeff Byers missed practice with a sore knee. Alex Parson filled in for Byers at left guard and Derek Simmons worked at right guard with the first-team offense. Coach Carroll expects Byers to be back at practice on Wednesday.

Tailback Allen Bradford didn't practice on Tuesday and will sit out the rest of the week to give his hip a rest.

Zack Heberer is still questionable with turf toe.

Stay tuned to SCPlaybook.com for news and updates and the USC Trojans.

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