Portland, OR - Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli spoke for many of his fellow Ducks when he voiced relief that the whole LeGarrette Blount saga is over.
Only it really isn't. Now the question is how No. 14 Oregon will work Blount back into an offense that has become accustomed to his absence.
Blount was suspended by coach Chip Kelly a day after the season opener for punching Boise State's Byron Hout. He missed eight games before his reinstatement on Monday.
``It's always good to close that chapter and get all that stuff behind us. Just to have him out here on the field in a white jersey really brings it to a close,'' Masoli said.
Blount is practicing this week as the fifth-string running back on Oregon's roster. He'll be eligible to play Saturday night when the Ducks host Arizona State at Autzen Stadium, but when, and if, he'll appear remains to be seen.
e he hasn't had the constant running that he would've gotten had he been with the offense all the time. And he's definitely not in game shape,'' running backs coach Gary Campbell said.
The possibility that Blount could play will no doubt bring renewed attention to Oregon, which incurred widespread debate at first over the suspension and again over the reinstatement.
Oregon lost the opener against Boise State 19-8 on national television. With the cameras rolling, Hout shouted something at Blount, who responded with a punch that brought the defensive end to his knees.
Blount apologized immediately following the incident and later called both Hout and Boise State coach Chris Petersen to express his regrets.
While he was suspended, Blount remained on scholarship and was allowed to practice with the team. He served on the scout team, playing the role of such opposing backs as Cal's Jahvid Best and Stanford's Toby Gerhart. He also became a father.
Kelly moved to give Blount his second chance early in October, when he said that the senior could return if he climbed certain academic and behavior ``ladders.'' He would not say what those requirements were.
On Sunday, Kelly recommended that Blount be allowed to rejoin the team. Oregon officials signed off and the Pacific-10 Conference approved it.
ted to prove that he is a changed person and he has given himself a chance for a second opportunity.''
``It's still a work in progress,'' Kelly said. ``He just has the opportunity to play again for us on Saturday, but that doesn't change and that doesn't mean that everything we have in place falls by the wayside. He has to continue to work and move in a positive direction.''
That said, Blount will not be brought back as the 1,002-yard rusher he was last season. Redshirt freshman LaMichael James has taken over in his place, rushing for 1,043 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
James is the first Oregon freshman to run for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
The Ducks (7-2, 5-1 Pac-10) were undefeated in conference play before falling to Stanford 51-42 last weekend. They still remain in good shape to vie for the conference championship; After the Sun Devils, Oregon visits Arizona before wrapping up at home against Oregon State in the Civil War rivalry game.
While this season's Ducks could be known for years to come for the Blount drama, there's an impression that many would prefer for all of it to just go away.
``It's finally over, which is probably the best thing,'' center Jordan Holmes said about Blount's return. ``Coach Kelly made his decision, the administration agreed with him, so that's what we're going with because that's what the skipper wants.''
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