Oregon DE Thibodeaux injured in opener against Fresno St.

National Sports

EUGENE, Ore. (AP)Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux injured his left ankle in Saturday’s game against Fresno State and did not play in the second half.

Thibodeaux, mentioned as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate this season, was injured in the first half of No. 11 Oregon’s season opener. He returned after having the ankle taped.

The 6-foot-5, 258-pound, third-year sophomore emerged from halftime wearing street clothes and a walking boot on his left leg.

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said after the game that it appeared to be a sprain and that X-Rays were negative.

”We’re very optimistic that it’s nothing too serious,” Cristobal said.

Oregon survived a challenge from the Bulldogs but emerged with a 31-24 win. Before he was hurt, Thibodeaux had two solo tackles and a sack.

”That’s one of the best players in the country right there, probably the best player in the country right there,” center Alex Forsyth said. ”So it’s always a tough to see a guy who’s a true leader, a high-level competitor, and just such an unbelievable player with an unbelievable motor, to see him go down. It’s terrible because he makes such a huge difference on our defense.”

Thibodeaux is projected to be among the top picks in the 2022 NFL draft should he decide to leave Oregon early.

A former five-star recruit out of Westlake Village, California, he led Oregon in sacks (3.0) and tackles for loss (9.5) in the coronavirus-shortened 2021 season.

The Ducks face No. 4 Ohio State next Saturday.

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