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EUGENE — Oregon running back and kick returner Thomas Tyner returned to practice this week and expects to play in the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl against Florida State.


He has been battling injuries most of the season, and has been limited to nine games. He entered the season as the expected starter at running back, but true freshman Royce Freeman eclipsed him. Tyner has 88 carries for 387 yards and three touchdowns, nine receptions for 65 yards and a score, and seven kickoff returns for a 21.6-yard average.

He had a key screen pass that went for a 21-yard TD play against UCLA. But he later, literally, ran into Shaq Thompson of Washington on a kickoff return and hurt his shoulder. Tyner returned against Stanford and had a beautiful, spinning 21-yard TD run and then a second rushing score.

But injuries sidelined the former Aloha High standout and five-star prep recruit late in the season. Until now, apparently.

"I'm feeling well. Just got back at it this week," he says. "I'm running and cutting. I'm doing a lot better. Ready to go."

Like center Hroniss Grasu, Tyner is working toward playing in the Rose Bowl/national semifinal at Pasadena, Calif. "I came out this week and I'm running and taking team reps," Tyner says.

"Coach (Gary) Campbell asks me how I'm doing, if I'm feeling better. He says we need you back there. It's motivating me to get into the treatment room more, and I'm doing as much as I can to get back out there and help the team."

It's been a frustrating year for Tyner, who also enjoyed some high momentss (like the UCLA and Stanford TDs). Freeman has rushed for 1,299 yards and scored 17 TDs in clearly taking over No. 1 running back duties.

"I guess you can say I had a slow start with this year and I'm battling injuries," Tyner says. "That's the low. But you've got to look at it and bounce back and look for a way to become stronger."

Tyner traveled to Pasadena to watch the Ducks play Wisconsin in the January 2012 Rose Bowl. Then, he was part of the team that won the Alamo Bowl last December.

Playing in a national semi at the Rose Bowl is something he really looks forward to doing.

"(The 2012) Rose Bowl was one of the best times that I've experienced," he says. "For me to be able to play in that, it'll be so exciting. Great opportunity to play in that stadium, there's a lot of history in that stadium. I just want to make big plays and do great things."

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