Mycah Pittman, Brenden Schooler are practicing again after suffering fall camp injuries
Willie Taggart used to say that “Ducks heal differently” when asked abut injuries during his one-and-done season at Oregon.
Three wide receivers who suffered injuries before No. 13 Oregon’s season kicked off against Auburn in Arlington, Texas, are healing on different time frames.
True freshman Mycah Pittman and senior Brenden Schooler are back practicing and could join the lineup when the 13th-ranked Ducks face California on Saturday at Autzen Stadium (5 p.m., Fox).
Pittman, who was being praised for his play-making abilities by coaches throughout fall camp, suffered a shoulder injury while making a diving catch during a scrimmage.
Schooler, a projected starting receiver and special teams standout, underwent foot surgery in early August.
“(Pittman) practiced with us last week, practiced with us (Sunday) and looked really good. Feel really optimistic about him playing this weekend,” coach Mario Cristobal said during his Monday news conference. “Brenden is right there as well. I think both those guys, as long as they continue to progress throughout the course of the week, we feel that have a really good chance of playing.”
Cristobal isn’t as optimistic about senior receiver Juwan Johnson being able to make his Oregon debut against Cal. The Penn State graduate transfer has been dealing with a “soft-tissue” right calf injury.
“Because Juwan’s has lingered for a while, I’m a little bit more cautious to say that he will be ready,” Cristobal said. “That being said, there’s been significant (progress) in his healing process as well.”
Schooler and freshman Bryan Addison are listed as co-starters on this week’s depth chart, with Johnny Johnson and Jaylon Redd starting at the other two receiver spots.
Pittman and Spencer Webb are both listed as the backups to Redd. Juwan Johnson is not on the two-deep, but Cristobal said there hasn’t been any conversations about him sitting out this season.
“Our focus is on playing right now,” Cristobal said.
Two other injured receivers, true freshmen Lance Wilhoite and JJ Waters, are also “getting closer to playing, according to Cristobal.”
Backup running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio, who missed the Montana and Stanford wins with back spasms, is practicing this week.
Redshirt freshman receiver JJ Tucker, who has not played this season despite all of the injuries at the position, is not currently with the team.
“JJ Tucker is handling some personal issues,” Cristobal said. “There is no guarantee he’ll be on the team or off the team yet.”
Webb moved from tight end to receiver before the opener and caught Justin Herbert’s touchdown pass in the 27-21 loss to Auburn, which is now ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll.
Daewood Davis, who also has a touchdown reception this season, moved over from defense.
With two notable receivers on the mend, there is a chance Webb and Davis could return to their original positions.
“Both of them have been unselfish players because Spencer was playing tight end, Daewood was playing some corner, and they were both also on their way to being productive at those spots as well,” Cristobal said. “There’s still some unknowns now. That comes with the week, and as we get into it and we feel pretty optimistic about it, may there be some moves? There might.”
Herbert has completed 74.4% of his passes this season for 1,127 yards with 14 touchdowns and no interceptions this season.
Johnny Johnson leads the receiving corps with 22 receptions for 264 and two touchdowns. Redd (149 yards, three touchdowns) and Addison (110 yards, one touchdown) have also had their moments.
Senior tight end Jacob Breeland leads the Ducks with 265 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
“It certainly allows you to do some things from every standpoint,” Cristobal said of possibly adding Pittman, Schooler and Juwan Johnson to the mix as the season progresses. “From a practice standpoint, from a depth standpoint, and then of course what you use on Saturday. So we’re pretty exited about having those guys back.”
Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email podcast mailbag questions to email@example.com. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.