Sophomore receiver Robert Woods made his way back onto the practice field Thursday after a hamstring injury kept him sidelined for most of the last two sessions, and he fit right back into the mix as Matt Barkley's leading receiver and best pass-catcher.
Woods caught most balls thrown his way and dropped little, making a nice catch-and-run play for a touchdown on a screen pass and a number of other big plays. He had pulled the hamstring early in Saturday's practice on the wet grass at Howard Jones Field.
"Coming out today I wasn't really sure if I was gonna go or not but I was feeling good," Woods said after Thursday's practice. "[Coach Lane] Kiffin tried to sit me out a little bit but I kept hopping in because my leg felt good and he just kept throwing me in and getting me some plays."
Without Woods, the Trojan offense was severely shorthanded, forced to operate with only two scholarship receivers Tuesday. With Woods, Kiffin noticed an immediate difference in the offense's efficiency.
"It helps to have Robert," Kiffin said.
It helped to have Woods last year when he caught 65 passes for 792 yards and six touchdowns. He entered the season as an afterthought of sorts behind other starting receiver candidates but made noise right away in fall camp and took the starting job by the season opener at Hawaii.
He ended up starting all 13 games, playing through a back injury and illness that hospitalized him in the week leading up to the Arizona State home game.
Even now, he's now completely healthy -- the hamstring injury still keeping him from full-go health.
"He still isn't 100 percent," quarterback Matt Barkley said. "And so he was going even while he's still a little hurt -- it just shows the character he has.
"It's good to have him back. He seems to catch everything."
Woods said he was at about 75 or 80 percent health but is expected to practice Saturday, when the Trojans will scrimmage on the practice field.