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UCLA football notebook: Injured quarterback Kevin Prince making slow progress

August 20, 2010 | 12:33 pm

UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince threw longer, and harder, on the sideline Friday morning, finishing it off by spiking the ball hard enough to bounce back to him.

Ucla-logo_250 "That was a happy spike," Prince said later. "Two days ago, it would have been an angry one."

Such is the snails-pace progress Prince is making in returning from a strained back muscle. He threw for 10 minutes on the sidelines, from as far away as 25 yards, and was "throwing harder than I have the last couple days."

The result was "little sharp pains on the side," something he said was "significantly better."

The Prince Watch has taken over as the main media focus in training camp, as the Bruins lurch toward their Sept. 4 season opener at Kansas State.

Will he be ready or won't he?

Coach Rick Neuheisel has said it will be necessary to have Prince back in practice early next week. His quarterback appears comfortable with that timeline, and next Friday's scrimmage at the Rose Bowl is circled on the calendar.

"There is more focus on that scrimmage because it is closer to the Kansas State game," Prince said.

Still, Prince remains wary of aggravating the injury.

"It's bearable pain, but I'm not making the throws I can make," Prince said. "We're being patient. There is no reason to rush back and make things worse."

Thigpen crams

Former running back and F-back Damien Thigpen is getting fast-track tutoring at cornerback. He spent the last two days playing the nickel back with the first-team defense.

"We're trying to grow him up fast in that position," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "He's a talented kid. He's a reliable kid. He's great tackler, as he proved last year on special teams. Obviously he has great speed."

Thigpen said the cornerback position is hardly foreign to him.

"My dad trained me as a cornerback and some schools were recruiting me at that position," said Thigpen, a sophomore who played tailback last season. But, he added, "I'm a little rusty, so I got to get back on my Ps and Qs."

Quick hits

Offensive Eddie Williams did not participate in Friday morning's practice. He was suffering from "concussion-like symptoms," Neuheisel said, after taking a blow to the head Thursday and was scheduled to get tested later Friday. … The Bruins will scrimmage at Drake Stadium on campus Saturday at 5 p.m. and will run "60 to 90 plays," Neuheisel said. … Defensive end Datone Jones, just off foot surgery, has been provided with a cart to get around practice … a "red" cart. Bruins fans can take solace in the fact that it's more Stanford red than USC red.

-- Chris Foster