McNeal escapes serious injury

USC running back Curtis McNeal started Sunday's scrimmage at the Coliseum and was running well early on until he suffered a injury to his right knee on just his third carry of the day.

McNeal, a redshirt junior, initially feared he had suffered a torn ACL when a defender twisted him one way while tackling him and his right leg went the other, but he didn't need extensive medical attention on the sidelines. By the time the three-hour scrimmage was over, McNeal was feeling fine.

"I thought it was real bad," he said afterward. "But after I got to the sideline, it was tight but I was able to bend it, so I knew it was fine."

He said he would likely undergo a precautionary X-ray, even though he said he didn't need it. McNeal finished the day with 14 yards on his three rushes. Dillon Baxter, Amir Carlisle and D.J. Morgan, who took all of the carries in his absence, all averaged at least five yards per carry, with Baxter leading with 101 yards on 16 rushes.

In last Monday's scrimmage, also at the Coliseum, McNeal carried the ball seven times for 42 yards. He'll learn officially whether he is academically eligible for the 2011 season on Tuesday, but coach Lane Kiffin has said he expects him to be available.

McNeal is also the Trojans' No. 1 running back at this time, according to Kiffin.