Robert Woods misses practice
LOS ANGELES -- USC receiver Robert Woods did not practice Wednesday because of nagging ankle and shoulder injuries, and Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said there is an increasing possibility that Woods will sit out of Saturday's game against Oregon.
Woods, a sophomore, was limited to three touches in the Trojans' 40-17 win over Washington on Saturday. It was his lowest output of the season, and he did only light drills in practice Tuesday before sitting out entirely on Wednesday.
"He's just worn down," Kiffin said after practice. "The kid is trying to do everything that he can but when you have an ankle and a shoulder (injury) you can't generate much power.
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"A lot of kids wouldn't even be playing right now. He just keeps throwing himself back in there."
Woods has 92 catches for 1,126 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. He's nearing USC's records in both receptions and yards, set by Keyshawn Johnson and Johnnie Morton, respectively. But the ankle injury has bothered him all season long, and he also had an elbow issue that plagued him for than a month.
The shoulder ailment is a more recent development, one that caused him problems against Washington when blocking for fellow receiver Marqise Lee.
"If you just look at the last two games and if you look yesterday at practice, he's going the wrong direction," Kiffin said. "If we just keep practicing him, even though we limited his practice, he's not getting better.
"So hopefully this will help. If he can't go this week, at least the time off and the weekend off, hopefully he'll be back close to full speed for UCLA."
Kiffin said earlier this week that Woods was operating at about 70 percent. The receiver himself said that was a conservative estimate, but he didn't claim he was fully healthy. He's been wearing a non-contact jersey in practice more often than not .
"Sure it is," Kiffin said, when asked if there was a real possibility Woods wouldn't play. "Watch him. We've got service-team corners that he can't run by right now.
"There's no secret that this affects us."
And, about Woods' sure-to-come proclamation that he will be fit to play, Kiffin said he and the coaching staff would have to determine how truthful his words were. Woods will say he's ready to play every week, Kiffin said.
"We have to see what that means," Kiffin said. "He's going to say he's ready no matter what. He's always going to say that. But go back and look at Saturday's film. He shouldn't have been playing in that game. You like to trust in them because they say they're fine and say they can go in, but that's just him being tough. We have to make sure we're doing the best thing for the long run with him."
USC's injury problems aren't limited to Woods, either. Defensive tackle DaJohn Harris missed another practice Wednesday after sitting out last week's game, while star left tackle Matt Kalil and defensive tackle Christian Tupou were limited.
Defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron is cautiously optimistic Harris and Tupou both will return to the starting lineup against the Ducks' powerful running game.
"You need every healthy body you can get against those guys," Orgeron said. "I think those (injured) guys will be ready."
For his part, Oregon coach Chip Kelly believes Kiffin is trying to smoke-screen the Ducks, telling reporters in Oregon that there's no chance Woods won't play against his team.
"He's playing, I'll tell you that right now," Kelly said. "I love that kid. He's a competitor."
Asked if he would believe Kelly if he claimed that one of his top players was questionable for Saturday's game, Kiffin was quick with a change-of-topic response.
"I don't have to worry about that because Chip doesn't have to talk about injuries," Kiffin said. "He's not nice to the media like I am to you guys. He doesn't have to worry about that."
Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.