USC: Layla Kiffin
LOS ANGELES -- Here are some news and notes from the Trojans' no-pads practice on Thursday, which was held on Dedeaux Field for the third straight day:
Left tackle Aundrey Walker returned to practice and worked with the first team after essentially missing all of the last week with a wrist issue. He came out of the locker room with a brace on his right wrist, then switched to tape on it later in the day.
"Aundrey did everything today," coach Lane Kiffin said when asked about Walker's return. "We'll continue to push him to see (how he's recovered)."
Kiffin said he didn't know if Walker would have been able to participate to the same extent if the Trojans had held a padded practice.
Middle linebacker Lamar Dawson continued to sit out with a calf injury, but Hayes Pullard returned Thursday and once again filled in for Dawson in the middle. Redshirt freshman Anthony Sarao was the first-team weakside linebacker.
A trio of USC defensive ends -- Wes Horton, Greg Townsend Jr. and J.R. Tavai -- also sat out of Thursday's practice, meaning the Trojans were without five of what they thought would be their top seven ends entering into camp, with Devon Kennard and DeVante Wilson both likely out for the season.
Freshman receiver Nelson Agholor did not practice with an undisclosed issue, and senior running back Curtis McNeal was in and out of practice -- mostly out -- with an apparent knee injury.
Doing the returning
USC cornerback Nickell Robey said the coaching staff has decided that he'll be the Trojans' primary punt returner this season and receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee will hold down the kick-return duties.
Putting both Woods and Lee back on kickoffs is an interesting decision, especially given the new rules the NCAA is adopting this season, with kickoffs being taken from the 35-yard line and touchbacks going out to the 25.
The expectation is that it'll lead to less contact and more touchbacks, but many teams may try to avoid giving their opponents the ball at their 25 easily, so it might not be so clear-cut.
Hoping for Harris
Kiffin really likes Torin Harris, you can tell.
He thinks the redshirt junior corner was playing as well as or better than Robey last season, before he got hurt in the fourth game against Arizona State. And he still thinks he'd be a definite starter if he were healthy this camp and not sidelined with a potentially problematic hamstring issue.
With Harris out, Anthony Brown took most of the snaps at the second corner spot on Thursday. Robey said Brown has "been doing great so far" in camp.
Final notes: USC's normal practice arena, Howard Jones Field, was getting re-sodded on Thursday, so the Trojans will be practicing on Dedeaux Field for at least a few more days. ...The last two-a-day of fall camp is scheduled for Friday, with a morning session at 9:15 a.m. and an afternoon one at 3:20. ...Kiffin's wife, Layla, made an appearance at practice. Kiffin spoke to a group of university donors after practice.
"Our quarterback," Kiffin said.
True enough. But Kiffin also had some more insight to offer on his players' and his own Thanksgiving Day celebrations later Thursday. The 36-year-old Trojans coach didn't plan on going home until 6 or 7 p.m., but then he'd get a chance to eat, drink and be merry for a bit with wife Layla and the rest of the Kiffin clan.
And, most importantly, not talk any football for a few hours.
"Not at all," Kiffin said. "Really it's the last thing we want to do. We don't want to talk about football when we finally go away from here.
"But a lot of our family is here, on both sides, so it's good."
Kiffin and his staff checked with all of the players, too, and everybody's either going back home to spend time with family or congregating at certain players' homes for a makeshift Thanksgiving Day feast. A number of players' families -- including receiver Brandon Carswell and safety Jawanza Starling -- flew in to Los Angeles to celebrate out here.
The only challenge, then, is making sure some of the players don't come in a little, uh, overweight for Friday afternoon's walk-through.
"We talked to our big guys," Kiffin said. "It's going to be hard to monitor them. Unless we go from house to house.
"We just have to trust them, but I don't think that's going to go over very well."