USC began its second week of preseason training camp Monday and head coach Clay Helton told the media that sophomore tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe won’t be taking part this week. Or next.
The Trojans coach said Imatorbhebhe, who sustained a hip flexor injury last Tuesday, could return in two weeks.
Ideally, Helton is hoping Imatorbhebhe could return during the mock game week — the week before USC’s Sept. 2 season opener at home against Western Michigan.
“I’m really hoping by about mock game week is what we’re shooting for — it could be earlier,” Helton said. “We’ll get him running and changing direction. We just don’t wanna go back full speed with an injury that’s kind of been nagging.”
Imatorbhebhe isn’t the only tight end missing practice, either. Junior Tyler Petite is out with a concussion protocol and freshman Josh Falo sustained a minor knee injury last week. The MRI on Falo’s knee didn’t show structural damage so his timetable could be similar to Imatorbhebhe’s.
Despite the sudden loss of tight end depth, Helton wants to ease Imatorbhebhe back in the lineup. Listed on the Mackey Award watch list, Imatorbhebhe is poised as one of Sam Darnold’s top targets in 2017 and Helton wants to ensure he’s 100 percent by the time the season comes around.
Especially since USC doesn’t have a bye week.
“We want him healthy. If we can get him back about mock game week about two weeks out, that would be ideal. If we can get him even sooner, then that’ll be perfect,” Helton said.
Here’s Helton’s news conference after practice Monday: