Saturday Practice Notes

Practices opened back up to the public and members of the media on Saturday, as the No. 2 Oregon Ducks began a week of preparation as they ready themselves for Thursday's contest vs. UCLA at Autzen Stadium.

As the Ducks opened practices back up to members of the media and the general public, the biggest news of the day was the return of sophomore quarterback Darron Thomas to the practice field. Thomas, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury midway through Oregon's 43-23 victory at Washington State a week ago, appeared to be pain free this morning as he threw the ball all over the field with no ill effects. As per usual, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly withheld divulging too much injury information regarding his starting quarterback, but was optimistic about Thomas' return to the lineup come Thursday night's game vs. UCLA.

"We'll see come Thursday," said Kelly. "We don't play till Thursday, but he would be good to go if we had to play tonight."

Entering game week preparation for the Bruins, Oregon's official injury report only included two players; sophomore running back Kenjon Barner (head) and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Everett Benyard (ankle). Despite incurring a number of dings the previous week up in Pullman, the Ducks are arguably the healthiest they've been all year, as they've used the bye week to their advantage in order to recuperate their battered bodies.

"It's very encouraging," said Kelly with regard to his team's relative health right now. "The big thing is trying to sustain this thing because it's a long season. Knock on wood, we're relatively healthy at this point in time and that's helped us...I think it's a lot to how we practice and how we prepare and our players understand the value of practice."

Lastly, despite their 6-0 record and their No. 2 national ranking coming out of the bye, Kelly said the Ducks still have a number of glaring on-field problems they still need to address. Most notably, Kelly mentioned the Ducks' need to shore up penalties and the lack of ball security in the return game.

"We need to clean up fumbles lost," stated Kelly. "We're not very good in that right now. We've lost four fumbles on special teams and four fumbles on offense. We've got some holding penalties that are high in my opinion and we need to work on fundamentals and getting our hands inside the framework of the was a real fundamental week for us on the days that we practice just in terms of improving as a team."

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney

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