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Oregon's already prolific offense should get a boost this week against UCLA with the expected return of running back De'Anthony Thomas.
According to reports, Thomas, who has missed the last four games with an ankle injury, will play Saturday when the No. 3 Ducks (7-0, 4-0 Pac-12) host the No. 12 Bruins (5-1, 2-1).
|Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas has missed four games since suffering an ankle injury while returning the opening kick against Cal on Sept. 28.|
In a video posted by The Oregonian this week, Thomas said, "I should play Saturday."
In three games this season, Thomas has rushed for 338 yards and six touchdowns with an average of 8.0 yards per carry. In his absence, Byron Marshall has carried 111 times for 746 yards and nine touchdowns, and true freshman Thomas Tyner has 360 yards and seven touchdowns. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is second on the team in rushing with 493 yards, nine touchdowns and an average of 10.1 yards per carry.
"It's great just to go out there, see guys having fun," Thomas said after Tuesday's practice. "I hope we can continue that and put more points up on teams, and I feel as long as we keep winning games, we should be successful."
In his first two seasons with the Ducks, Thomas was used in a hybrid role as a runner/receiver. This is his first season as a primary back.
Asked Tuesday how Thomas will be reintegrated into the Oregon offense with the rise of Marshall and Tyner, coach Mark Helfrich said it's still to be determined.
"We'll have to wait and find out from a game-plan standpoint how everything shakes out," Helfrich said. "Your personnel groups are obviously dictated by what you can do. We've had a lot of receivers step up and play really well on the perimeter. I think Byron and Thomas have very bright futures, so we'll fit that all together and see what turns out."
Oregon, which is No. 2 in The Associated Press poll but trails Alabama and Florida State in the BCS standings, ranks second in the country in scoring offense, averaging 57.6 points per game.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.