On Monday: an injury scare to Tyler Johnstone, the favorite to start at left tackle in the Sept. 5 season opener against Eastern Washington. Johnstone left the season's first practice on a cart with an apparent leg injury, though its severity is unknown. If it turns out to be serious, it would be a cruel start for Johnstone, who suffered two ACL injuries between the end of the 2013 season and the start of the 2014 season last August.
Oregon lineman Stetzon Bair has retired from football, the school announced. Bair was a junior-college transfer who played on the defensive line as a sophomore in 2013 before moving to the offensive side last year. He and his wife had a baby following the College Football Playoff National Championship game in January.
Oregon will not make wide receiver Darren Carrington available for interviews until further notice. His suspension for a failed drug test began with the CFP National Championship game and is expected to include the first five games of this season.
Among the walk-ons joining the team for fall camp is Matt Mariota, the younger brother of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. Matt Mariota is a 6-foot-2, 248-pound freshman outside linebacker.
The Ducks will practice each day but Sunday during fall camp. Oregon practiced in helmets and shorts on Monday and will again today before adding shoulder pads on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday will be the first day in full pads and Saturday is the first of six days in the fall featuring two practices.
Two players who have signed aid agreements with the Ducks, quarterback Vernon Adams and linebacker Jonah Moi, aren't currently on the roster. But by announcing 103 players Monday, the staff left room for additions after camp opens.
Charles Nelson was listed as a receiver as camp opened, after practicing at cornerback during spring drills.
Helfrich said Nelson’s heart might lean with the offense, but he still could be a factor on defense. “He’s a guy that will be everywhere,” Helfrich said.
Quarterback Ty Griffin is another player whose versatility will be an asset. He practiced at receiver and on special teams in the spring, and Helfrich said the staff will continue to look for the role in which Griffin can become the most consistently productive.
Griffin’s younger brother, Taj, is “full-go” for the start of camp after missing most of his senior season of high school last fall with a knee injury, according to Helfrich.
Receiver Devon Allen is another player working his way back from missed playing time, and when asked about his status, Helfrich said “we’ll see.” “He’s such a tough dude,” Helfrich said. “I have no doubt he’ll do everything he can — and has done everything he can this summer — to put himself in a situation to be back out there.”
Vernon Adams Watch
Adams' path to Eugene has been littered with obstacles. Originally planning to be on campus in June to participate in summer workouts—which would have given him an opportunity to build chemistry with a new receiving corps—Adams did not fulfill Eastern’s graduation requirements during the spring academic quarter, which pushed back his arrival date. Adams is in Eugene and taking his final class on campus, but the earliest date he’ll be able to join the team is Thursday, Aug. 13. Head coach Mark Helfrich has sidestepped questions about Adams the last couple months, saying he prefers to talk about people who are currently part of the program.
Adams told SI.com via text message on Monday afternoon that he’s been “studying like crazy” to pass his final class, and has spent the summer working out and throwing with his friends and roommates. He said the Oregon coaches told him he could not work out with his future teammates in any unofficial capacity. Adams hour-long final is Thursday at 12:30 PST. The plan is to take the exam, wait a few minutes to find out if he passed and then, hopefully, race over to the football complex. There’s a chance he passes but does not show up to practice until Friday. Though Oregon doesn’t start fall classes until the end of September, Adams said this is his “last shot.” If he doesn’t pass and can’t join the Ducks, Adams isn’t sure what he’ll do. Returning to Eastern is possible, but it's unlikely the Eagles would take him back.
If and when he suits up, Adams will battle veteran backup Jeff Lockie for the job. A junior from Alamo, Calif., Lockie is described as “a good dude” by Helfrich, and is one of the most respected leaders in the locker room. One of Mariota’s closest friends, Lockie said Monday he heard from the former Oregon standout over the weekend, and Mariota reminded him to “trust what I can do” and worry about “my snaps and my plays,” not anyone else. In two years as a reserve, Lockie has attempted just 41 passes.
Coaches wondered if Tyner was a transfer candidate. I'll admit, I wondered would Mike Riley's staff at Nebraska still covet the running back they recruited while in Corvallis? How about Oregon State's Gary Andersen, who could build around a back with Tyner's speed? And the speculation was fueled, in part, by the Ducks own policy when it comes to talking about injuries.
Mark Helfrich told reporters Monday: "He's not going to be in fall camp and his availability after that remains to be seen."
Was this Helfrich being intentionally vague? Or trying to tell us that he really didn't know if Tyner was part of the franchise moving beyond this injury and this season? It raised questions.
As I talked about it on Tuesday on the radio show on 750-AM/102.9-FM, John Tyner, Thomas' father appeared on Line 3. He wanted to set the record straight on his son's injury, the speculation that his surgery was a precursor to an eventual transfer, and that it was dad -- not son -- who insisted on the surgery.
John Tyner said: "There is no story. He's a Duck. He's going to be back with the Ducks. He likes the Ducks. He wanted to play. I was the bad guy... the shoulder was damaged. It wasn't a labrum tear. It was a bone chip and he risked further injury."
John Tyner outlined the injury, which he said occurred when nobody blocked Shaq Thompson on the opening kickoff of last season's game against Washington.
"A block was failed to be made on Thompson, who was the gunner on the far right side and he had what you never see in football -- an unabated 30 to 35-yard full run at a blind spot on a ball carrier. I liken it to getting hit by a motorcycle at 20 to 25 miles an hour," he said.
Tyner explained why he talked about it publicly, and said that theoretically his son could have played through the injury but would have faced a more serious surgery.
He reiterated: "People are reading too much into things. Thomas is a Duck, he's going to be a Duck."
Tyner has a redshirt season available to him and will have two years of eligibility remaining should he sit out this season.
The 6-foot-5, 185-pound floor general is rated by 247Sports as the No. 2 point guard nationally and the No. 10 player overall in the class of 2017, while Rivals lists him as the No. 7 prospect in the country. Arizona, Arizona State, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA, UNLV, USC and many others have already expressed interest in the dynamic guard, so Oregon will have an uphill battle, but Altman has proven that he can land elite talent. And there's no doubt that the electric point guard is just that.
Brown, who is listed as the No. 5 player in the nation by ESPN and recently wrote a blog for USA Today, was first offered at the age of 14 by UNLV, according to Las Vegas Sun, and has been rated a five-star prospect by every major recruiting service.