Increased movement, and a whole lot of firing away long passes, made up Jake Locker's mid-week practice regiment as the junior quarterback tries to recover from a deep right thigh bruise, suffered in 43-19 loss against Oregon.
Watching his standout make small-step progress, Washington Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian still labels Locker's availability against UCLA on Saturday as "questionable," but hopes to firm up a decision after practice Thursday.
"My big thing with all injuries, especially with something like this, is how they respond. We asked him to move a little more today than we did yesterday," Sarkisian said. "The key for me is how he responds tomorrow. I'll be able to make a better assessment Thursday in how he responded from today."
Locker's side-to-side running consisted of a few rollouts, and a bootleg – nothing more. He did not appear taxed at all on dropback passes, which he appeared relaxed and fluid in his throws.
"He's looked good, but you continue to have to deal with the issue of the leg, and that's going to be an issue," UW offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said.
Educated guess – barring any sort of setback Thursday – Locker will be in uniform, and playing. How much of the playbook Sarkisian can or will utilize, that is a different question entirely.
"I'm hoping he just responds really well tomorrow, and he's able to really run around tomorrow. We haven't asked him to do that yet," Sarkisian said.
" I'd rather it not be (a game-time decision). I'd rather, for the sake of our football team, to be able to make that decision so everyone know where we're at, one way or another."
Other Wednesday stuff:• Competition was in the air. So was a little tension – enough to propel a few in-practice scuffles between receivers and one defensive back.
It started after receiver Devin Aguilar and cornerback Desmond Trufant went after it during a pass play in the end zone. Aguilar apparently felt the true freshman was holding too much, and voice his displeasure.
After Trufant retorted, Aguilar came up with a push – and the scrimmage officials threw a penalty flag.
The jawing continued well past the play. Even Jordan Polk and D'Andre Goodwin got into it with Trufant, lightly pushing him in the back.
"It's that time of year where it's getting chippy," Polk said. "Everyone wants to do good. Like coach said, you practice how you want to do in the game, and a lot of people are trying to transfer that over."
• Linebacker E.J. Savannah (broken left hand) has been ruled out for the game Saturday at UCLA, marking the second time he's missed a game this season. Cort Dennison will start in his place.
"I think he'll have a better chance (versus Oregon State). We're just trying to let that hand heal a little bit," Sarkisian said. "I feel for the guy, because he's been through so much with the hand – three different breaks in three different places. I think it's fair to him to let that thing, give it a week of not banging on it, and let that thing heal a little bit."
• The outlook continues to worsen for defensive tackle Cameron Elisara (neck stinger). He wore the protective no-contact red jersey again Wednesday and did not practice. In fact, it's been almost three weeks since he's been able to do any football-related activities.
"That stinger thing won't go away," Sarkisian said.
Senior Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, one of the best defensive ends in the Pacific-10 Conference, has played more inside this week for defensive coordinator Nick Holt. That way, Holt can get some of his younger and talented defensive ends, notably Andru Pulu and Talia Crichton, more playing time.
• A good sign for Polk (knee) was that he was moving around freely, and attacking defenders Wednesday on pass routes. The speedster feels he's nearing a full return to health.
"I'm hungry to try and make plays," he said.
How much he plays, by his own admission, lies in Sarkisian's hands. The coach said he was impressed how far the sophomore has come along in his recovery.
• Backup center Mykenna Ikehara (knee) continues to be slowed by injury, and the offensive line depth has thinned out. Drew Schaefer has moved over and play some center recently.
Another guy rotated in and out with the first-team offense at left and right guard – redshirt freshman Daniel Kanczugowski, out of O'Dea in Seattle.
"We're shuffling some guys around to get ready, just in case some other injuries to do occur," Sarkisian said.
• Jason Wells appears closer to seeing action at safety than Anthony Boyles does at cornerback. In fact, Wells stripped James Johnson during a scrimmage play Wednesday and forced a turnover.
"His movement is getting better. He looks more comfortable – not as timid as all as the first time around we tried to bring him back during training camp," Sarkisian said. "I'm very encouraged what Jason is doing. He brings a lot of savvy, a lot of feel for the game back there."
• Kickoff for the Oregon State game Nov. 14 in Corvallis has been set for 12:30 p.m.