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UCLA morning practice: Tailback Ramirez has scrimmage test

August 21, 2009 | 12:12 pm

Christian There is a bit of urgency for UCLA tailback Christian Ramirez, who has been slowed for a week with a sore left hamstring.

Ramirez, who still tops the depth chart at tailback, could use a solid scrimmage Saturday night, as those tailbacks behind him have been gaining ground. Derrick Coleman was already considered tailback 1-A, and  redshirt freshmen Johnathan Franklin and Milton Knox have been showing improvement while Ramirez’s activity has been limited.

“He’s got to play tomorrow,” Coach Rick Neuheisel said. “He has to play and play a significant amount.” That means “with four backs, if we get 80-90 plays, I hope he can get somewhere around 10 carries.”

Ramirez, a junior, was academically ineligible and missed last season. He also missed nearly all of spring practice with a pulled right hamstring.

“That one was different because it was a pull,” Ramirez said. “This one is just a little sore.”

Still, his time in 11-on-11 scrimmages has been nearly nonexistent this week. Meanwhile, Coleman continues to run hard, while Franklin and Knox have made the most of the extra time.

“Johnathan Franklin has had an unbelievable camp, and Milton Knox has been unbelievable,” Neuheisel said. “What’s the pecking order? Everyone deserves a chance to show something.”

Ramirez's chance needs to be Saturday.

“We can’t stir around and put a blind eye the way the other kids are running,” Neuheisel said. “I think he is eager to get going and hopefully Chris gets rolling tomorrow night.”

One of the advantages Ramirez has is coaches know he can provide pass protection. It’s the main area of concern about Franklin and Knox.

“They’re improving, but it is still work in progress,” Neuheisel said. “Until they do it without coaches standing right behind them, not against a blocking bag but a thing that is actually moving, we won’t be sure.”

Other practice notes:

-- Quarterback Kevin Prince was shutdown at the end of practice, a precautionary measure because of a sore arm, Neuheisel said.

“It’s nothing serious, I had this in spring too,” Prince said. “We’ve been doing a lot of things the last two weeks.”

Neuheisel said he was not sure how much work Prince would get in the afternoon practice because, “we want to make sure he gets a good scrimmage.”

-- Kicker Kai Forbath (sore right leg), defensive tackle Jerzy Siewierski (back) and wide receiver Gavin Ketchum (hamstring) will not participate in Saturday’s scrimmage.

-- Kenny Stills, a wide receiver from La Costa Canyon High in Encinitas, Calif., said he is considering 10 scholarship offers, including UCLA.

-- Chris Foster

Photo: UCLA running back Christian Ramirez poses at UCLA. Photo credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times.

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