Monday, September 7, 2009
Blount a no-show at Ducks' practice
Running back LeGarrette Blount did not practice with Oregon on Monday even though he was allowed to under a season-long suspension for a postgame punch in the Ducks' opener.
Coach Chip Kelly said he did not expect Blount at practice.
"People I think should respect he's been through a lot the past few days," Kelly said during a conference call. "He's got to make some decisions on where he is and everything. But we have a plan in place for him and when he decides to come back."
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Blount punched Boise State's Byron Hout in the jaw after the No. 16 Ducks' 19-8 loss to the No. 14 Broncos on Thursday night. Hout was knocked to his knees.
On Friday, Kelly suspended Blount for the rest of the season, in effect ending his career with the Ducks. But Blount was kept on scholarship and allowed to practice.
Previous reports said that Blount was expected to be at Monday's practice. He was instructed not to speak to the media.
The workout was the team's first since Blount's suspension was announced. Oregon hosts Purdue on Saturday.
"He's taking it pretty tough," said tight end Ed Dickson, one of Blount's best friends on the team. "He's a competitor; he wants to play."
Over the weekend, Blount and Kelly called Hout and Boise State coach Chris Petersen to apologize.
Hout yelled in Blount's face and tapped him on the shoulder pad before catching the right to the jaw. Petersen was trying to pull Hout away when the defensive end was hit.
There was an immediate outcry over the punch, which was captured on the national television broadcast of the game.
Blount had apologized after the game when he spoke with reporters. He has not commented since.
"I just apologize to everyone that was watching this, ESPN, national TV. I just apologize to all of our fans, all of Boise's fans," he said. "It was just something that I shouldn't have done. I lost my head."
Dickson confronted Blount afterward.
"I was one of the first people on him in the locker room and he just looked at me and said 'I messed up," Dickson said.
Hout faced internal discipline by Boise State but was not suspended. During a conference call Monday, Petersen said "we've done the right thing" in not suspending the defensive end for any games.
Oregon president Richard Lariviere called Blount's actions reprehensible. Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti, who stepped aside after 14 years as coach of the Ducks this summer, called the punch an "egregious error."
"As a player, I feel real bad that LeGarrette had to be suspended for a whole year. It was the action made by Chip Kelly and we support our head coach fully," quarterback Jeremiah Masoli said Monday. "It's just an unfortunate situation that it had to happen."
Blount, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound transfer from East Mississippi Community College, rushed for 1,002 yards and a school-record 17 touchdowns last season.
Dickson said Oregon will recover from the damage the punch has caused.
"It's not a black cloud," he said. "It'll show our character, how we bounce back from this.