Bralon Addison's knee injury—suffered in non-contact practice drills on April 10—shrouded a wide receiving corps already in flux under even more uncertainty.
Losing Addison potentially for the duration of the 2014 season was undoubtedly the most noteworthy news of Oregon football's offseason.
Oregon already lost Josh Huff, the team's leading receiver each of the last two seasons. Gone too was pass-catching running back threat De'Anthony Thomas. But with Addison coming off a breakout year of 890 yards and seven touchdowns, the junior was ready to carry the mantle for the passing attack.
That leaves redshirt senior Keanon Lowe as the sole returning receiver with any considerable production to his credit.
But if Addison's injury is the offseason's biggest news, the second edition headline it generates may be the emergence of a new crop of stars.
Oregon's depth chart is bursting with potential playmakers, eagerly awaiting their opportunities to work with quarterback Marcus Mariota. Two such Ducks seized the spotlight in the final weeks of spring practice: redshirt freshmen Devon Allen and Darren Carrington.
Allen capped his standout string of practices in the spring game on May 3, catching touchdown passes of 45 and 49 yards.
"He was able to implement what we did in practice to the game,” Mariota said, per Tyson Alger of The Oregonian. “That’s huge, for as young as he is, to have his head on a swivel and be able to recognize that.”
Allen's terrific spring included a tremendous effort for the Oregon track team. The speed that makes him a standout hurdler seems strangely apropos for the Ducks' style and pace of play.
Allen told Gary Horowitz of the Statesman Journal his goal for 2014 was contributing in any fashion possible:
I just wanna get out there and contribute no matter what it is. Special teams, offense, just get on the field and play and help our team win. I think that's the biggest part. If I can catch a few touchdowns, that's a bonus.
With the shake-up in the unit, Allen is on his way to catching more than a few touchdowns from Mariota come autumn.
Of course, other voids remain in the Ducks receiving corps that need filling by the time the season kicks off—and particularly by Week 2, when Oregon hosts Michigan State and its "No-Fly Zone" secondary.
Carrington's made strides to that end, according to head coach Mark Helfrich, along with Allen.
"They're doing a good job as far as that whole situation, as far as building from their redshirt year," Helfrich said on the May 1 coaches teleconference call, per Pac-12.com. "Darren's really shown the dynamic capabilities of what we expected him to be."
With Allen and Carrington emerging as the leaders, the Ducks might actually have surprising depth at receiver. Dwayne Stanford and Austin Daich offer size at 6'5" and 6'3", respectively, and veterans B.J. Kelley and Chance Allen should see more work in the rotation.
Losing Addison was indeed the most important headline of Oregon's offseason thus far, but should be a challenge this team is equipped to handle.
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