Tape It Up: USC: The Best Is Out, Again

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USC: The Best Is Out, Again

Josh Pinkard has been through all of this before. Pete Carroll once described him as "maybe the best football player on our team," but that was before the USC defensive back sat out almost the entire 2006 season after tearing his right ACL in the season opener aganinst Arkansas. The fourth-year junior went through a tough rehab process and had regained his spot as the top cornerback on the nation's best team heading into this season. But then it happened again. Pinkard injured his left knee in practice and learned this week that he will need another season-ending surgery for another torn ACL, this time in the left knee.

Pinkard said he first suffered a bone bruise in the week before the season opener, and practiced through the pain, but his knee gave out during Monday's practice and he knew the feeling all too well. Although the 6-foot-1, 215-pound DB thinks that the whole process will be easier the second time around, it's certainly not a fun one to go through, no matter how familiar you are with the rehab exercises and waiting time. PInkard has the option to apply for a sixth year after his eligibility is complete in 2008, but he said he has not thought that far ahead yet.

Good choice, since now is not the time for USC to be looking much further than Saturday, when the Trojans will find themselves without one of their best and most versatile players when they travel to Lincoln to take on Nebraska.

Taking over for Pinkard will be junior Cary Harris and sophomore Shareece Wright. Wright had back-to-back tackles in the backfield in the season opener against Iowa (for losses of 13 and 4 yards, respectively) and Carroll likes what he's seen from the 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback, but needs more consistency from a player who has yet to make his first start.

This may not be the game for the Trojans to be experimenting defensively, as Nebraska's Sam Keller has the ability to get hot at any moment. But Wright looks like an explosive second choice.

Back In Action
Tailback Chauncey Washington and wide receiver Patrick Turner have been practicing at full speed this week, and should be ready to play on Saturday. They saw their first contact work of the season in mid-week practices, and Carroll is optimistic about their progress. Tailback Joe McKnight is also fully recovered from a mild knee sprain and wide receiver Travon Patterson should be back in the rotation, too.

Still Ailing
Tailback Allen Bradford missed practice time this week with a bruised right knee that he sustained against Idaho but kept to himself until this week. (A poor choice by the sophomore. For future notice, when you're hurt, tell someone about it!) Linebacker Brian Cushing has seen only minimal practice time as the left ankle he sprained against Idaho continues to bother him, and offensive lineman Matt Spanos is awaiting a special brace that will allow him to play with his torn triceps. Right tackle Drew Radovich is close to getting his starting job back after missing most of fall camp with back spasms, but sophomore Charles Brown looks to be at the top of the depth chart for one more week, at least.

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