Monday Practice Notes

Oregon RB Kenjon Barner

Even after a crucial road victory in Los Angeles this past weekend, the Ducks showed no signs of a hangover as another week of preparation began. With a rivalry game against the Washington Huskies looming on the horizon this upcoming Saturday, the Ducks, new minted as the No. 1 team in all the polls (including the BCS), went back to work inside the Moshofsky Center Monday morning.

1. Oregon sophomore running back Kenjon Barner returned to practice this morning in a more active role despite sporting a red non-contact jersey. Barner, who suffered a concussion against Washington State, has missed the Ducks' previous two games as he's recovered from the injury. Today, Barner took the majority of his reps with the second-team offense during team drills and looked to be in great physical condition; displaying the kind of high-level explosiveness and alertness he showed before suffering the concussion. Though Oregon head coach Chip Kelly wouldn't comment on Barner's status for the Ducks' upcoming game vs. Washington, Barner's participation today seemed to indicate that he could be good to go this weekend.

2. After practice this morning, Kelly said that his team's tempo has gotten faster as the season has worn on. With only a matter of seconds separating one play from the next during practice today, there appeared to be little to no hangover coming off Oregon's key road victory at USC.

"We're continuing to kind of experiment with how we want to do things," said Kelly. "Guys are getting better and they understand the value of it. If it's a weapon for us, then we'll continue to do it."

3. Kelly also commented on the tremendous progress sophomore quarterback Darron Thomas has made from the beginning of the season, to now. Thomas' 19-of-32 passing for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns Saturday night against the Trojans has solidified him one of the conference's top signal-caller, yet his command of the offense extends beyond the impressive nature of his statistics.

"Darron's been great," remarked Kelly. "You've seen him get better and better each game. It's neat to see him continue to grow and develop. He handles all our protection up there and we've been sacked three times for the season. That's a lot of credit to our offensive line and what they can do, but also to Darron in getting us in the right protections."

4. The Oregon secondary played arguably their finest game of the season this past Saturday as they virtually eliminated any and all big plays for quarterback Matt Barkley and the Trojan passing game.

"It may have been," said Kelly when asked if his secondary turned in it's best performance of the year. "I know it was Talmadge (Jackson)'s best game. I can tell you right now that Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods are the best combination of receivers that we'll face, so (the secondary) really upped their game in a big way...for us to play that well in the secondary against that group really gives us a lot of confidence as we move forward."

Oregon Official Injury Report:

RB Kenjon Barner (head), CB Anthony Gildon (leg), OL C.E. Kaiser (hip), ROV Eddie Pleasant (shoulder)

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney

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