The restlessness is readily apparent in Jahvid Best's eyes. He wore shoulder pads Thursday morning, played catch, even engaged in some drills on the sideline. But Shane Vereen, not Best, lined up at tailback with the first-team offense in Cal's practice at Memorial Stadium.
Best has been sidelined for nearly a week by soreness in his left big toe (coach Jeff Tedford described it as a bone bruise). Doctors told Best the soreness is probably connected to offseason surgery on his left foot. The pain, significant every time Best ran last weekend, has subsided the past few days. "I'm a little frustrated," he said. "But it's almost back to 100 percent. I'll be ready. ... We're just taking the safe route to make sure I'm ready for the season." Best has nursed several injuries in his two years at Cal, from a hip problem his freshman season to foot and elbow injuries last season. He hopes to rejoin practice in the next few days, a sight Tedford obviously would welcome. Best missed all of spring practice as he recovered from the surgeries on his foot and elbow, so he has taken few practice repetitions in the past eight months. Cal opens its season in 15 days, Sept. 5 against Maryland. "No matter what, you need some reps before you play," Tedford said. "He's got to get in there and get a little of the rust off."
Speed demons: Usain Bolt's world-record dash Sunday, when he covered 100 meters in 9.58 seconds, left Best suitably impressed. Best won the California state championship at 100 meters in 2007, running 10.31. "It was a perfect race," he said of Bolt's performance in the world championships. "He can still run faster. We might see a 9.4."
Smith's pain: Tight end Tad Smith knew right away. He went down on an innocuous running play in Tuesday night's scrimmage, saw a teammate roll into his right knee and then felt the knee buckle. Smith tore his ACL, will have surgery Sept. 1 and will miss the entire season. It was an especially cruel blow given that Smith came back from ACL surgery on his left knee in 2006 and another operation on his shoulder this past spring. "This is kind of surreal, because I fought so hard through rehab," he said. "I just didn't really believe it happened."