Steve Sarkisian’s time on the Pac-10 conference call has come and gone, and as might be expected, the main topic was the health of QB Jake Locker, who is attempting to get past a deep thigh bruise suffered against Oregon Oct. 24.
Locker practiced Monday, appearing to split the reps with the first unit with backup Ronnie Fouch.
But Sarkisian said that doesn’t necessarily mean Locker will play Saturday against UCLA, saying Locker will have to make it through the week without any other setbacks.
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to make this decision prior to game time or not,” Sarkisian said, adding that they may have to “wake up Saturday morning and see how he is feeling.”
Sarkisian noted that Locker wasn’t asked to do any real running in practice Monday so the injury wasn’t greatly tested.
“We limited him to some degree yesterday,” he said. “We didn’t have him running around, he was not doing anything that put any real stress on that thing. Hopefully by doing that we can get that thing even more rest to reduce the swelling. But at some point we have to ask him to do some of those things here throughout the week to see what his limitations are and what he can do.”
Typically, the heaviest practice days are Tuesday and Wednesday, when the game plan is installed and the team works out in full gear, with pretty much to full contact (though QBs are always off-limits).
Sarkisian said more would be known after today’s practice.
“We’ll get a better look at it today,” he said. “He practiced at a pretty high clip yesterday and we’ll see what the swelling is like and all that.”
Sarkisian doesn’t talk to the media after practice tonight, heading straight to his radio show, while Locker only talks on Monday. So any official word tonight on how Locker progresses will come via Sarkisian’s radio show. I’ll monitor that and pass along whatever he may say about it.
Sarkisian said there is no doubt that Locker will want to play and that that won’t be the issue. But he said the coaches and training staff will have to make a “smart decision” to make sure they aren’t putting Locker in a tough spot.
“We’ve got to put him in situations in practice to see if he can do what he is capable of doing,” Sarkisian said. “It’s not about if he can stand in the pocket and drop back and throw and all that stuff. It’s about his ability to escape and not take unnecessary hits. … we’ve got to be smart about our decision to play him and if we do play him, what we ask him to do.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— Sarkisian said DT De’shon Matthews has joined DT Everrette Thompson in being bothered by the flu and that the team is being extra cautious in basically keeping players away the minute they show any signs of having the flu — he referred to it as essentially putting players in “quarantine” once they show any signs. Neither practiced yesterday and it’s unclear when either would return. They are essentially the two backup DTs now with Cameron Elisara returning.
— He said WR Jordan Polk may be able to return this week from a knee injury. He said the hope is Polk will be able to do some things in practice today so “we can see where he’s at. It would be a real luxury to have him back.” He said he thinks Polk has been “re-energized” by his time away — he’s missed the last two games after being hurt in practice the week of the ASU contest — “so I’m anxious to get him back and we’ll see how he can respond today and tomorrow.”
— He said Mykenna Ikehara continues on the comeback trail from a knee injury suffered in practice last week and it’s uncertain if he will be able to play against UCLA. Drew Schaefer is taking snaps at center and would be the backup there if Ikehara can’t go.
All for now.