Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 8/8/12
LOS ANGELES ---Devon Kennard walks around Howard Jones Field these days as a spectator. He wears his white No. 42 jersey with a black sling wrapped around his neck that keeps his right arm in a 90 degree angle. He's just days removed from surgery to replace a right pectoral tear. He's months away from a return to any type of action on the football field. With a gaping hole at left defensive end due to Kennard's injury, the Trojans have to find someone to step in. To the chagrin of all parties involved, defensive tackle J.R. Tavai lined up with the first team at defensive end when the Trojans opened Fall Camp on Monday night. On Tuesday, he was there again. The coaching staff elected to go with Tavai at end instead of redshirt freshman Greg Townsend. "(We're) just not putting all the pressure on Greg," said defensive line coach Ed Orgeron. "We think Greg is a really good player but we didn't have nobody right there to push him and we didn't think that he was ready to be a starter yet and the things that we saw with J.R. was that he could make plays in space." Tavai isn't foreign to the position. Last season he appeared in seven games as a backup defensive tackle but also saw some time at left defensive end behind former Trojan Nick Perry and is comfortable there. "I like it a lot," Tavai said. "I'm just going to compete with Greg Townsend and do my best. "I get to drop now so that's pretty fun. I turn into a linebacker and I enjoy that." Although he didn't find out until Monday, Townsend says he wasn't shocked about Tavai moving over to defensive end. "I know he knows (defensive) end and he's a great athlete," Townsend said of Tavai. "He has a motor. He's strong. He's talented. We're just out there just pushing each other and that's really what I like competition. You need competition to get better. "I gotta push J.R. and he gotta push me. We have different skill sets and I think that's going to work to the team's advantage." Unlike the issues the team had at running back before the arrival of Silas Redd, the Trojans have bodies to put on the defensive line. But for all of the players who will get a look during Fall Camp, they're short on experience. That's a quality they'll miss the most with Kennard being out of the lineup. "Devon missed a lot of sacks last year and didn't make some plays but I thought this year would be his year because of just being out there and (his) experience," Orgeron said. "We have no experience at left end. Nobody played. J.R. played a little. Greg hasn't played so that's a concern." That concern spreads throughout the defensive line and is not just limited to left defensive end. "We don't have an experienced nose tackle," Orgeron said. "(Defensive tackle) George (Uko) is new. We don't have an experienced left end. How are we going to react in a game type situation? Are we going to make plays? Are we going to make mistakes? We have not been dominant at the line of scrimmage since I've been back. In order for us be where we want to go, this group has to really improve fast."
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