Oregon DE Thibodeaux injured in opener against Fresno St.

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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