Standout Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux's junior year has gotten off to a rough start.
Widely considered one of college football's top prospects, Thibodeaux sustained a lower left leg injury in the first quarter of the Ducks' 31-24 season-opening win over Fresno State. He would briefly return later in the half before exiting again and sitting the remainder of the game in a walking boot.
Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said after the game that Thibodeaux suffered a sprain, according to The Oregonian. Cristobal added that his X-rays were negative and that the team is "very optimistic" about the injury not being serious.
Prior to exiting, Thibodeaux logged two tackles, one of which came in the form of a thunderous strip-sack during Fresno State's second drive.
The talented young defender later took to Twitter to say he would be OK.
The injury occurred late in the first quarter following a Bulldogs run play. As Ducks defensive tackle Kristian Williams and Bulldogs offensive lineman Mose Vavao tussled to end the sequence, the pair fell into Thibodeaux from behind and rolled onto his foot/ankle.
He would leave the field under his own power and have his foot/ankle taped before later returning to the game. His return would be short-lived, however, as the 20-year-old exited for good shortly before halftime.
Based on Cristobal's comments, football fans and NFL scouts alike should feel some level of encouragement regarding Thibodeaux's health status. The coming days will certainly be key in determining next steps.
NFL Network draft guru Daniel Jeremiah is one of many keeping a close eye on the 2020 first-team All-Pac 12 selection as the season progresses. Jeremiah spoke highly of Thibodeaux while evaluating him back in June, citing that he reminds him of the legendary DeMarcus Ware.
"There isn't a perfect comparison for Thibodeaux, but I see a lot of similarities to Ware when I evaluated him coming out of Troy in 2005," Jeremiah wrote. "They have the same long, wiry build and they both have an explosive first step. I would give Ware the edge as a pure bender at the top of his rush, while I see a little more power from Thibodeaux at the same point in their development. Ware had a Hall of Fame-caliber NFL career and Thibodeaux has the potential to become a similar player."
The Ducks are scheduled to visit Ohio State next week in one of the season's most highly anticipated games.