Ailing ankle sidelines Robert Woods
LOS ANGELES -- USC receiver Robert Woods will miss the rest of spring practice after an MRI revealed lingering inflammation in his surgically repaired right ankle, he said Tuesday.
He is now expected to miss one more month, pushing his return to the field past USC's spring game on April 14 and to a full year since the initial injury.
"It's almost there," Woods said Tuesday. "It's getting a lot better than where it was right after the surgery.
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"I'm just trying to look at it as, 'No need to rush back.' "
Woods, a consensus All-American as a sophomore in 2011, played the entire season after damaging the ankle in a pick-up basketball game last April and had the injury get progressively worse as the season went on.
He then underwent arthroscopic surgery on the ankle in mid-December and was supposed to be cleared by this February. But that date got pushed back and Woods was then supposed to be cleared by the start of the second week of spring practice, beginning Tuesday.
Then, over the school's spring break last week, Woods had an MRI done while getting a second opinion and it turned up the inflammation. USC coach Lane Kiffin said team doctors recommended he sit out the duration of the spring following the results.
"He's kind of had a setback," Kiffin said Tuesday, noting that Woods was still running with a limp when he did recent individual work. "It's not healing as fast."
Woods said his primary goal is to get fully healthy come the fall, believing it's better to sit out the spring than to be limited during the season.
"I just don't want to deal with this season how it was last year," he said. "This time off should be pretty good for me.
"I don't want to be pushing right now with pain. It just gets worse."
Woods, 19, caught 111 passes for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2011, despite the injury. He is projected as a high first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft if he chooses to declare early.
Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com.