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Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Injuries starting to take their toll

By Pedro Moura

Lane Kiffin was bracing for it, it seemed.

Each time he addressed reporters after the first few days of fall camp, he'd offer a brief injury report, updating the hurt players' statuses, and then say some variant of, "Luckily, we've stayed healthy up to this point. Hopefully we can keep it up."

And the Trojans did keep it up, for almost a full week, at least. But injuries caught up to them Wednesday, as two key players -- linebacker Chris Galippo and receiver Brice Butler -- sat out of practice and it was announced that reserve offensive lineman Giovanni Di Poalo will miss the season because of a shoulder injury that will require surgery.

"Normal injuries starting to mount at this time," Kiffin said Wednesday. "We've gotta push through and get guys back as much as we can."

The infirmary list has been getting long. On Wednesday, cornerbacks Brian Baucham (hamstring) and Torin Harris (concussion), safety Demetrius Wright (hip) and center Cody Temple (back) were all out, as was quarterback Jesse Scroggins (thumb). Tight end Christian Thomas (hip) was out; Xavier Grimble (neck) was limited. Other players like cornerback Tony Burnett (ankle) and defensive tackle J.R. Tavai (hamstring) practiced but were still recovering from injuries that sidelined them at various points this week.

And those were the more minor injuries, mostly to backups or players sharing time at positions. Three other noteworthy injuries also had updates Wednesday, as Kiffin announced that Di Poalo would be out for the year; he had been experiencing issues with his shoulder popping out since spring practice.

Then there was Butler, who Kiffin said earlier Wednesday was a likely candidate to start across from Robert Woods based on his high level of play through the first week of camp. Butler, a junior practiced in the morning session and didn't show any signs of being hurt but showed up to the night session sporting crutches.

He said afterward he sprained his right ankle midway through the morning but decided to push through it. But while sitting in meetings in the afternoon, he started to experience pain and had it checked out by team doctors. X-rays were negative, he said, and he expected to be out only on a day-to-day basis.

Galippo missed practice because of a shoulder injury he suffered Tuesday, but an MRI exam he underwent Wednesday came back negative. He was wearing a sling over his right arm but didn't appear to be in too much pain.

Kiffin and his staff are still somewhat lucky, in that no essential players have come down with anything long term. And, with more depth on this year's team than last, they can afford to have certain linemen and defensive backs miss short periods of time.

But, even so, the 10 players who were affected by injuries Wednesday represent nearly 15 percent of the Trojans' scholarship roster, so it does have some effect, obviously.