Young receivers playing catchup

• Lowe, with 40 career receptions, is now the Ducks’ most experienced wideout

By Ryan Thorburn / The (Eugene) Register-Guard

No experience needed

Of the 13 wide receivers on the Ducks’ spring roster, only four other than the injured Bralon Addison caught a pass last season.

Yr Rec Yds TD

Keanon Lowe Jr. 18 233 3

Chance Allen Fr. 5 98 1

Blake Stanton Jr. 2 11 0

B.J. Kelley So. 1 13 0

Total 26 355 4

EUGENE — Bralon Addison has not caught his final pass for Oregon.

Is there any chance the junior wide receiver, who tore an ACL during Wednesday’s spring practice, could catch passes from Marcus Mariota in 2014?

Offensive coordinator Scott Frost did not rule Addison out for the upcoming season.

“I think that will be up to Bralon,” Frost said after Friday’s practice. “We’ll see what he’s thinking, how far he comes along. We’re just on his side and whatever happens we’ll be right there with him.”

Even though head coach Mark Helfrich would not “confirm nor deny” that Addison is even injured, the Ducks began preparing for life without the program’s top returning receiver and special-teams threat.

“First and foremost as his friend, it’s tough to see that. That’s an athlete’s worst nightmare,” senior receiver Keanon Lowe said of Addison’s knee injury. “That’s something we all know, through his injury and through injuries in the past, on any given play on any given day, you could go down.

“That’s just football.”

Oregon was counting on Addison with the loss of Josh Huff, who led the team in receptions, receiving touchdowns, receiving yards and all-purpose yards last season. Lowe, an excellent blocker who was the Ducks’ fifth-leading receiving target in 2013, is now the lone returning starter at wide receiver.

Typically, recovering from a torn ACL takes six to nine months.

“I love Bralon,” Frost said. “He’s going to make a hell of a lot more plays around here before he’s out of here, but we have a lot of other guys on scholarship. We’ve got a great quarterback to throw to them, and in some ways we’re kind of glad if it was going to happen (that) it happened now, because a lot of these guys are going to get reps and they’re just going to have to grow up fast.”

Addison had 61 receptions for 890 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He also averaged 14.1 yards on 20 punt returns with two touchdowns.

Now Lowe will lead a long list of young, talented receivers over the final spring practices and throughout preseason camp.

“It’s tough, especially (Addison) being a good friend of mine,” Lowe said. “But there’s a lot of opportunities for other guys to step up, and that’s the way you have to approach it.”

The Ducks got off to a shaky start without Addison during the first scrimmage of the spring Friday. Helfrich said the offense played slower than normal with young players getting “tons of reps.”

“There are a lot of guys that need to either grow up or they’re going to have very limited playing time,” Helfrich warned.

Understandably, there was some shock among the players after Addison, one of the most dynamic skill players in the Pac-12, went down during a routine noncontact drill.

“It was tough for a second, but you have to move on and you have to compete,” Lowe said. “You have to think about him when he’s in the training room and can’t run and you’re out there. You have to think about him and go just as hard.”

Lowe chose to keep private the conversations Addison has had with his teammates in the locker room since the injury, but he added: “He’s definitely in good spirits for sure.”

Most likely, Addison will take advantage of a redshirt year and return to the field in 2015 as a fourth-year junior.

If he is a fast healer, the possibility of making a key catch to move the chains against Stanford on Nov. 1 or grabbing a late touchdown pass from Mariota at Oregon State on Nov. 29 might be tempting.

“Bralon is a stud,” Frost said. “He’s going to be here. No matter what is going on with him, he’s going to be involved in what’s going on.”