Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  By LA TIMES  |  Last updated 12/21/13
UCLA's defense got a little weaker Friday. Linebacker Eric Kendricks had right ankle surgery, leaving the Bruins without their leading tackler when they face Virginia Tech on Dec. 31 in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. Kendricks had surgery on the same ankle last summer, which kept him out of training camp. Still, he didn't miss a game during the regular season despite more injuries. He left the Stanford game Oct. 19 with a back injury and the Oregon game the following week with a shoulder injury. But Kendricks, a fourth-year junior, has not been able to practice since the USC game Nov. 30 because of inflammation and pain in the ankle. After meeting with coaches, trainers and doctors, Kendricks decided to have surgery. He is expected to be back for spring practice. Kendricks leads the team with 106 tackles, third most among Pac-12 players this season. Freshman Isaako Savaiinaea has been practicing in his place. Savaiinaea has played in every game this season. The loss deprives UCLA not only of one of its top defensive players, but an on-field leader. Kendricks is a team captain and handled defensive signals. Kendricks led the Pac-12 in tackles in 2012 with 150. He was second on the team with 76 tackles as a freshman. UCLA began keeping statistics on tackles in 1975. --Chris Foster
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