EUGENE — The bad news kept coming for Avery Patterson in November.
First, the Oregon safety suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Oregon's 59-17 win over California. The next week, in the first game he missed in his college career, Oregon suffered its lone loss of the season, a 17-14 home defeat against Stanford.
"The first couple of weeks were really difficult because we were going through things as a team and I wanted to get out there and help them," Patterson said. "(Rehab) started out a little difficult because it was the middle of the football season and I wasn't really motivated to do much. I had to learn to walk again and a lot of things like that. Once I got back to myself, once I was able to walk again and do a lot of things I wanted to do, it was (good) from there."
Patterson said it took about two weeks following surgery before he could walk again and then he was committed to getting back on the field.
"I took it day-by-day and really worked on trying to get healthy, not trying to push things when I shouldn't and knowing when to go hard when I needed to," he said. "I think that's the real key in the recovery phase and after that getting into football shape."
Patterson sat out the spring game in April but said that was a precautionary move.
"I could have played if I had to, if it was a game," he said. "If it was now, I would have been out there to help the team win."
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Patterson said his knee was back to 100 percent when Oregon began fall camp on Monday.
"I am excited, ready to get back to football," he said. "Once my doctors gave me a plan and my trainers gave me a plan after that, I went out and executed it, and now I am ready to go."
Patterson began last year as the backup to John Boyett at free safety, but when Boyett was lost for the season with an injury in the opening game, Patterson moved into the starting lineup. Despite missing the final three games of the year, Patterson ranked seventh on the Ducks with 44 tackles as a junior.
He also emerged as a big-play defender when he had an interception in three straight games and returned one 34 yards for a touchdown against Washington State and 43 yards for a score the following week against Washington. He averaged 37 yards on his three interception returns.
"I always had confidence and felt even as a freshman like I could have made a lot of plays," Patterson said. "I always felt like I could make plays if given the opportunity, and I was given more opportunities last year than previous years."
Patterson suffered a torn ACL in the second quarter against California.
"That was really difficult because football is my favorite thing to do," Patterson said. "When I got that taken away from me, I felt like the world was taken away from me, but once I realized that it's not that big of a deal and I will be back on the field sooner rather than later, I just took this recovery and ran with it.
"I used it as my motivation inside and that really helped me become a better player. I think I will be a better player this year than I was last year."
Patterson returns to a veteran secondary and teams with Brian Jackson to give the Ducks two senior safeties.
"Avery is looking great, running around," Jackson said. "He seems fine to me."
Junior Erick Dargan, who replaced Patterson for the final three games, also returns after leading the Ducks with five interceptions last year.
"It definitely helps when you have experience back there," Patterson said. "We all know what we can do well and what we can't do well, and our egos get along well. We know what we have to do, we know we are all here to win games."
Patterson said he has put the injury behind him as he prepares to start his final college season.
"I am not worried about any injury," he said. "I go out there and play football like I have been taught to play since I was little. I go out there and make plays and be me."