Blount more active in practice

EUGENE — LeGarrette Blount took a more active role in practice this week because of illness and injury among Oregon's running backs.

But it still isn't known whether he'll see playing time at Arizona this Saturday.

Redshirt freshman LaMichael James sat out of practice earlier this week because of illness. Kenjon Barner had a quadriceps injury, so Oregon was left with Andre Crenshaw, Remene Alston and Blount.

Blount was reinstated from his suspension last week, but he did not play in No. 11 Oregon's 44-21 win over Arizona State — despite chants of "We want Blount!" from the Autzen Stadium crowd.

Blount was suspended for the season for punching an opposing player in Oregon's season-opening loss at Boise State. He was brought back after meeting behavioral and academic conditions set by coach Chip Kelly.

By not playing Blount in the victory against the Sun Devils, Oregon essentially prolonged what has already become a drawn-out drama. Kelly would not say earlier this week whether Blount would travel to Tucson. James, however, was expected to be fine in time for the game.

James replaced Blount as Oregon's starting running back and has exceeded expectations. He ranks second in the Pac-10 among running backs with an average of 119.3 yards a game (behind Toby Gerhart).

James has rushed for 1,193 yards this season, an Oregon record for a freshman.

James ran for 150 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona State last weekend. It was his fifth straight game with 100-plus yards. All of Oregon's other running backs — besides Blount — also saw action in the game.

The situation is delicate because even though Blount ran for 1,002 yards last season, Oregon's other running backs shouldn't be pushed aside just because he's returned.

That's a concern that was voiced by offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich after last Saturday's game.

"He just hasn't been there. He'll earn his way back and we'll see," Helfrich said.

James returned to practice on Wednesday, as did tight end Ed Dickson, who also had the bug.

Dickson honored

Tight end Ed Dickson has been selected as a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, which recognizes the top tight end in the country.

Dickson leads the Ducks with 37 catches for 488 yards and five touchdowns. He has already surpassed school career records for most receptions (119) and receiving yards (1,494) by an Oregon tight end.

Other candidates for the award include Pittsburgh's Dorin Dickerson, Florida's Aaron Hernandez, USC's Anthony McCoy, Iowa's Tony Moeaki, BYU's Dennis Pitta, Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph and Marshall's Cody Slate.

Extra points

Oregon leads the series against Arizona 20-14. ... The last two trips to Tucson have ended badly for the Ducks: Oregon lost QB Kellen Clemens to injury there in 2005 and Dennis Dixon in 2007. ... The two teams have split 18 games played at Arizona Stadium. ... The Ducks are averaging 37.1 points a game to lead the Pac-10 in scoring.

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