Lincoln Riley updates linebacker Shane Lee's injury status – 247Sports

  • October 14, 2022

USC captain Shane Lee is “further along certainly than he was” to return, USC coach Lincoln Riley said Thursday in his press conference. The fourth-year junior linebacker, who was observed with a cast on his left forearm/wrist in pregame warmups against Washington State, did not dress out against the Cougars.
Lee was first observed with the cast during the Trojans’ practice last week. Riley said last Thursday the cast was “a little bit protective” after Lee was “banged up” in the Trojans’ win against Arizona State. He did not play the final defensive drive against the Sun Devils but there was no indication he was injured until he did not practice last week. Still, Riley anticipated Lee would play, stating the linebacker would be “fully available” against the Cougars. Lee ultimately did not play.
“We were a little bit surprised last week, just things didn’t progress the way we expected,” Riley said this week. “Kind of like [fifth-year junior right guard Justin] Dedich the week before, obviously fortunate to get through that game, you’re able to win that game against a good opponent. Give Shane a little bit more time, which has been beneficial.
“I probably got too far out in front of it last week. I feel better about it this week than I did last week. He hasn’t been a full participant but has been able to participate certainly more than he did last week.”
Lee, who is one of USC’s top leaders this season, entered last Saturday’s game ranked second on USC’s team in tackles (36) and tied for third in tackles for loss (3.5). He also has 1.5 sacks and is one of eight different USC players to record an interception this season.
Fourth-year junior linebacker Ralen Goforth, a 13-game starter over the 2020 and 2021 seasons, started in Lee’s place at the WILL – or weakside – linebacker spot and led USC with eight tackles. Fourth-year sophomore Tuasivi Nomura played one series at the WILL position and one series at MIKE linebacker. He finished with two tackles.
Second-year sophomore strong safety Calen Bullock was also another defensive starter who missed most the game against the Cougars. Bullock was ejected for targeting early in the second quarter, forcing second-year freshman Anthony Beavers Jr. and fourth-year sophomore Bryson Shaw into action. Bullock is able to return to start for Saturday’s game at Utah.
Without those players, USC still had an impressive second-half effort defensively. It limited the Cougars to 135 yards – only 49 came through the air – in the last two quarters.
“Overall, I thought, both in that way, the specific guys who stepped up did a nice job,” USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. “What you need in those moments is — it can’t just be about the two that come in— everyone else kind of has stepped their game up.”
Still, Lee’s presence is very important and will be much needed by the Trojans Saturday.
Lee was the No. 5 inside linebacker prospect in the 2019 high school recruiting class. He transferred to USC after three seasons at Alabama. His career with the Crimson Tide started strong with him being named a Freshman All-American, but he was slowed by a sports hernia injury and had limited playing time his last two seasons in Tuscaloosa.
Now with the Trojans, Lee said he was looking forward to a fresh start with a team that has championship expectations attached from coach Lincoln Riley.
“It’s football at the end of the day,” Lee said previously, “and that’s what we came here to do.”
Lee could potentially try to play with a cast or some sort of club with his hand being fully wrapped similar to what defensive lineman De’jon Benton has worn since returning from an injury sustained Week 1.
“A lot of it depends on what style of protection that you have to have,” Riley said. “There’s so many different things for guys nowadays. There’s so many different kinds of materials out there that are pretty minimal in terms of impact. You try to find the best balance between something that’s going to work and protect what needs to be protected but also allows them to play. And if it’s something that’s going to hold them back on the field, then we wouldn’t play them.”
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