Cal running back Jahvid Best took his first hits in almost two weeks at practice Saturday night, and coach Jeff Tedford said he expects him to play in Monday's scrimmage.

The Bears' Heisman Trophy candidate said he's almost fully recovered from the bothersome effects of a sore big toe on his left foot, a by-product of offseason surgery.

"I'm feeling good. A little frustrated," Best said. "I'm not worried about this as much as my past injuries. They just want to take the safe route and make sure I'm ready for the season."

Best has been able to get in his cardiovascular work and work on fundamentals and ball mechanics on the sideline. What may be a concern is the fact that Best isn't in football shape because he's taken only a few hits during training camp.

Best also sat out spring practice while he recovered from foot and elbow surgeries, so he hasn't had much football contact since the Emerald Bowl in December.

Cal's coaching staff will find out more about where Best stands after Monday's scrimmage.

"No matter what, he needs some reps before he plays," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He has to get in there and experience what it's like and get the feel for it back."

  • Cal tight end Tad Smith said he knew immediately he had a torn anterior cruciate ligament when he went down during Tuesday's scrimmage. Unfortunately for Smith, he has some experience with it.

    Smith tore the ACL in his left knee during spring practice in 2006. So when he felt his right knee buckle in a similar way, he knew it wasn't good.

    "I had a feeling," Smith said. "It was just kind of one of those freak things. A couple guys went down and I got rolled up into the pile. My knee just kind of buckled."

    Smith's career at Cal has had its share of twists. He recovered from his first knee surgery to play the 2007 season, then moved from defensive end to tight end last year. He was the Bears' No. 2 tight end in 2008 and went into spring practice battling for a starting job, but suffered a broken scapula after getting hit hard by Cal safety Marcus Ezeff during practice.

    "It was kind of surreal," Smith said. "I had just come back from another surgery. I had fought hard to rehab my shoulder. It's a tough situation. Everybody has been real supportive."

    Smith said he would take some time to think about it before deciding if he will petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. If he doesn't, his Cal career is over.

    "It's definitely an option," Smith said. "I love football. I love this school. I can't get away from this team. I've come back from a lot of injuries to be with these guys out on the field and in the meetings and all that. I love it. Being able to come back would be a great thing."

  • Cal debuted at No. 12 in the Associated Press preseason top 25. It's the same ranking the Bears earned in the USA Today preseason poll. Cal has been ranked higher in the preseason just once during coach Jeff Tedford's seven years at Cal — No. 9 in 2006.