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UCLA football: Reginald Stokes makes fast recovery

September 23, 2009 |  7:45 pm
Reginald Stokes, UCLA defensive end, has made a rapid recovery from knee surgery and could return to the lineup against Stanford on Oct. 3.

Stokes suffered torn cartilage in his right knee in August and was expected to miss at least half the season. But his progress is such that he practiced with the Bruins the past two days, and participated in full-contact drills Wednesday.

“I’m close,” said Stokes, a 6-foot-3, 266-pound junior. “I’m starting to do a little bit here and there and ease myself back.”

But asked if he could play against Stanford next week, Stokes said, “As of today, yes.”

Coach Rick Neuheisel said Stokes was way ahead of schedule, but was more cautious about an immediate return. Stokes was ticketed for a key role off the bench, but the Bruins have received solid play from redshirt freshman Damien Holmes.

“The trainers earlier this week were less than optimistic that he would play,” Neuheisel said. “But it is in Reggie’s heart to make sure he makes it all the way back. I’m encouraged that he did well [Tuesday]. I’d be pleasantly surprised if he is at full speed and ready next week.”

Stokes said that he attended the daily meetings to “keep myself focused so when I came back I wouldn’t be so far behind.”

Now he's back and “Stanford is very much a possibility,” Stokes said.

Other practices notes:

Neuheisel was unhappy with the offense's performance during practice Wednesday, though he did praise the play of quarterback Richard Brehaut and receiver Morrell Presley.

As for the rest …

“I think the focus wasn’t there,” Neuheisel said. “I don’t fault the effort, it was the focus. You can point to all kinds of things, but the bottom line is we've got to be tougher than that.”

-- Tailback Christian Ramirez received some carries during 11-on-11 drills and could be available for the Stanford game. Meanwhile, wide receiver Gavin Ketchum (hamstring) and guard Nick Ekbatani (sprained knee) did some team drills, but still appeared unlikely to be ready to return.

 -- Chris Foster

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatime
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