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Getting Thiggy With It

Damien Thigpen is expected to play at Utah this week.

Yeahhhh, boyzzz!

From our friend Chris Foster at the LAT:

The Bruins head to Utah with an additional running back: Damien Thigpen is expected to play for the first time since suffering a knee injury against USC in November.

In a backfield already crowded by Jordon James, Paul Perkins, Steven Manfro, and Malcolm Jones, the Bruins are going to have to try to find some carries for one more.

In what was the only downside to an otherwise all time great evening, Thigpen suffered a season ending ACL tear against the trogans on Novemeber 17.  Up to that point in the season, he was more than handling his own as the primary backup to Johnathan Franklin.  His slashing lightning-quick running style was the perfect complement to Franklin's power and toughness, and Thigpen looked like the obvious heir apparent for the starting running back spot this year for this season.

Mora spoke about Thigpen's progress throughout preseason camp at San Bernardino, noting that Damien was making progress after working through pain from some residual scar tissue and then regaining the confidence to make cuts on the field.  Now Thigpen is back and ready to go and it will be up to RB coach Steve Broussard to decide who gets in the game.

"It's all about feel during the game," Broussard said.

James has done the bulk of the work. He is fifth nationally, averaging 141.3 yards per game. But Broussard has kept him fresh with Perkins and Manfro, each averaging more than six yards per carry.

Perkins has 110 yards in 15 carries; Manfro has 56 in nine. Both, like James, are skilled receivers.

Now add Thigpen, who was the Bruins' third-leading rusher last season with 262 yards and caught 18 passes for 211 yards.

"J.J. is the starter. He has had three good games," Broussard said. But "as the game goes on, I start to get a feel for how guys are playing. You're looking for consistency."

The Bruins should have the luxury of bringing Thigpen along slowly, as James and Perkins have been very effective so far this season.  So has Manfro, who had a great game against New Mexico State and who will continue to get chances returning kicks on special teams.  Add in a rejuvenated Malcolm Jones, and there just aren't a lot of carries for everyone, but it's a nice problem to have.

Welcome back, Damien!