Taylor Embree, UCLA's leading returning receiver, and Anthony Barr, the lone remaining healthy F-back, both sat out practice Thursday because of muscle tightness and will be sidelined indefinitely, coach Rick Neuheisel said.
Embree, who had 32 catches for 409 yards last season, has tightness in his calf, Neuheisel said. Barr, who stared four games as a true freshman last season, has tightness in his hamstring. Both are projected starters for this season.
"They came in and were in the training room and when they came out they just didn’t loosen up so rather than risk it we kept them out," Neuheisel said.
The loss of Barr comes one day after Damien Thigpen, Barr's backup, left practice because of a hamstring injury. Thigpen also sat out practice Thursday, leaving the offense without an experienced F-back. Morrell Presley, who started there last season, left school over the summer.
It forced Neuheisel to moved redshirt freshman running back Jordon James into the F-back spot, which is a hybrid running back/receiver/tight end spot. James said he had worked a little with the F-backs in spring ball, and was fine with the move.
"It helps the team," James aid. "I’ll just do whatever I can to help the team. I'm slowly but surely learning."
It certainly had an effect Thursday when the offense moved a bit slower than it had the first three days in camp.
"When we lose a couple of guys today and we’re having to put new guys in, that slows down the efficiency, no question," Neuheisel said. "If you are not playing [F-back] and you have to go in and play it, then it becomes a little more difficult.
Embree's loss isn't as hard to swallow because UCLA is fairly deep at receiver. Shaquelle Evans, Ricky Marvray and freshman Devin Lucien got more reps Thursday with Embree out, but Neuheisel said the injuries still sting.
"We need them," he said.