EUGENE- With the emergence of Oregon's Johnny Football and the "circumstances" surrounding star tight end Colt Lyerla, it's been easy for Pharaoh Brown to become the third wheel. Add in a bum wheel of his own, and Brown has seemingly disappeared off the face of the planet since the second week of fall camp when he suffered a leg injury.
But Brown is back now, participating in bye week practices this week before playing the first game of his sophomore campaign against California next Saturday.
With all of the hullabaloo surrounding Mundt's play it's easy to forget that Brown was in fact pushing Lyerla in spring and fall camp for snaps, before suffering the injury.
"I expect to be in the rotation against Cal, whether it's catching the ball, making blocks, on special teams… I just expect to be out there helping the team win," Brown said following Wednesday's practice.
Brown, a 6-foot-6 241 pound sophomore from Lyndhurst, Ohio, was a prized recruit in the 2012 class, who totaled two receptions for 42 yards as a true frosh last year.
The hardest thing for Brown since returning to practice this week has been catching his breath, which is to be expected considering his one month absence.
"I get tired really quickly.
"It's just trying to get back into shape. I've been gone for a whole month, as you can imagine I'd be pretty tired. So it's just getting back in a rhythm of playing football," Brown said.
Brown has been supplementing post-practice training with the practice work in an attempt to get to where he needs to be.
Asked the role the bye week will play on his recovery and preparation for Cal, Brown says it was crucial considering it played a part on his return date.
"The bye week was really big, because I was going to come back against Tennessee. But I had that bye week, so I just played it safe," he said. "It gave me a lot of time to rehab and recover, work on my cardio, and learn the playbook again."
In his mind, missing a game instead of risking re-injury was an easy decision.
"I only missed three games. Looking at it further in the season, I get 10 games plus bowl games or Pac-12 championship. I think it was a bigger payoff down the road by waiting," he said.
As was mentioned yesterday, bye week practices provide quite a divergence from regular game prep weeks. Coach Helfrich detailed the differences focusing on the importance of getting scout team guys team reps.
"Normally during the year, if you're a redshirting freshman… you're on the scout team. Next week they'll be full-fledged Cal. This week we're trying to get them a little bit more Oregon offense and defense. Some reps for the future.
"You can certainly tell who's been studying their Oregon playbook," Helfrich said.
Among the other differences are who is at practice. Most of the assistants are hot on the recruiting trails, leaving Helfrich and the remaining staff to run practices.
Helf highlighted the play of linebacker Danny Mattingly, running back Lane Roseberry and wideout B.J. Kelley as scout team guys making the most of their opportunities this week.