August 13, 2008

Practice Insider: Byers gets diagnosis, treatment

Sometimes something so little can slow down something so big.

Jeff Byers has spent more than a month trying to figure out just what was wrong with him, forcing him to miss time during summer workouts and during the early days of fall camp.

Tuesday night, he got his answer.

Byers has been diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a virus transmitted through tick bites.

"It's nice to get treated," Byers said. "I've been sitting here waiting to get treated for a while now. It's some closure on the deal"

Byers is now taking antibiotics and will return to contact drills once his enlarged spleen returns to its normal size.

Wednesday, Byers was able to work with the team on the offensive line, as the Trojans went through drills without pads.

While injecting Byers back into the line will force the staff to shuffle the positions again, the long-term benefits far outweigh any temporary discomfort.

"It's going to make a big difference in time. He was able to work with the guys," head coach Pete Carroll said. "His experience is really important to us."

Byers' status had been quite a mystery, with doctors testing him for a wide range of terrifying diseases.

"There were some tough times in there," Carroll said. "They tested him for all kinds of things. There were some days where we were waiting for results and it was pretty tenuous."

Now, though, Byers can begin to move forwards.

"It's great news to just know what he's got," Carroll said.

Oh Snap!

After fumbling twice during Tuesday's scrimmage in the Coliseum, quarterback Aaron Corp struggled to hang onto another exchange.

Wednesday, the offense worked with its back to its own goal line, and Corp and freshman center Abe Markowitz botched an exchange. Stafon Johnson fell on the ball in the offense's end zone.

After practice, all the healthy Trojan quarterbacks took additional reps with the centers, and problems still persisted.

"We're not as clean with the football and we just have to catch up there," Carroll said. "We have some good spurts and spells of doing fine, and then, up jumped a couple of issues. We're just going to have to really work hard."

Carroll said part of the problem comes from rotating centers in and out, due to some injury problems.

"It's a natural problem," he said.

Under pressure

Corp and quarterback Mitch Mustain had to deal with a shrinking pocket for most the morning session, as the Trojan defense continued to send extra men in the pass rush.

"It's given the offense some trouble," Carroll said, "We're doing a lot more than we'd usually do to really make it hard on them and try and bring them along faster."

Carroll said the alternative wouldn't help his quarterbacks improve.

"We could make it easy for them, but then they're not getting a really good sense of what it takes. We've made it hard on them, and I'm not worried about their confidence. We just want to gain a lot of looks and get as much experience as we can."

Extra Points

Joe McKnight sat out the morning session. McKnight's suffering from irritation caused by his equipment. T.J. Bryant previously suffered a similar ailment.

• A number of players returned to the practice field Wednesday. Jordan Cameron, Ronald Johnson and Everson Griffen, among others, all got work in during the practice. Matt Meyer remained out and Jordan Campbell didn't practice after suffering a slight groin injury.

"We had a laying of hands last night," Carroll said. "We healed some guys."

Mark Sanchez spent some time walking around practice without crutches.

• Carroll said Vidal Hazelton and Brice Butler are both "close" to returning from their injuries.

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