If you cover Oregon, you are just a couple of steps -- and gross crime scenes -- short of being an CSI investigator.
Injured Ducks walk by after a closed practice, and reporters observe. Then they trade ripostes with coach Chip Kelly, looking for flickers of information. Great fun.
My purely speculative reading of the tea leaves, along with local beat writer reports and Kelly's quibbling during the coaches conference call over questions about backup quarterback Bryan Bennett, is this: Both James and Thomas are very questionable.
Or very "day-to-day," to use Kelly's term.
This from Ken Goe of The Oregonian:
James said he has been limited to conditioning work in practice thus far, and that a brace is being made for the injured elbow.
Asked about his range motion, James replied: "I haven't got full yet, but it's close. ... I definitely could play. It's one of those things, if they need me to play. Kenjon is doing a great job of running the ball, and De'Anthony (Thomas). And Darron (Thomas) and Bryan Bennett. Those guys are doing a great job. So I don't know if they'll need me."
Darron Thomas, Oregon's starting quarterback, left last week's game with Arizona State because of an apparent left knee injury.
Thomas looked fine leaving practice in the Moshofsky Center on Tuesday. He was walking without a limp, and was in full pads.
You must realize that the players are fully aware of Kelly's position on providing no injury information as well as reporters' obsessive curiosity about their injuries. My take on James is that he's the sort who is amused by the back-and-forth -- at least sometimes -- and he's perfectly aware that reporters are looking for hints in everything he says. So it's risky to read too much into what he says.
This is from the Eugene Register-Guard, which includes video of James:
Running back LaMichael James remains sidelined by an elbow injury, and though quarterback Darron Thomas was in full pads, the in-house Oregon Sports Network reported that backup Bryan Bennett is practicing with the first-team offense this week in the wake of Thomas' knee injury.
"Bryan's been the same as he was last week in practice, very good," UO coach Chip Kelly.
Our takeaway from this: It's unlikely we will know for sure if James or Thomas will play until just before kickoff on Saturday.