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Originally published January 14, 2012 at 9:51 PM | Page modified January 14, 2012 at 10:05 PM

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Ducks QB Darron Thomas to enter NFL draft

Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

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EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Thomas made the announcement, which caught many by surprise, on Saturday night. He follows Oregon running back LaMichael James, who announced last week that he would skip his final year of eligibility.

"I came to this decision on behalf of myself and my family," Thomas said in a statement released by Oregon. "I have a dream of playing in the NFL and I'm going to pursue those dreams."

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior passed for 2,761 yards and a school-record 33 touchdowns this past season, despite missing a game because of an injury. He also ran for three scores. He threw only seven interceptions.

Backup Bryan Bennett is expected to lead the Ducks when Oregon opens spring practice April 3. True freshmen Marcus Mariota and Jake Rodrigues will also compete for the job.

Packers, Giants expect fireworks

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Going into Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game against the New York Giants, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are best known for all the fireworks they've produced on offense.

That's a good thing for the Super Bowl champions, because they've been remarkably vulnerable on defense.

All season the Packers have been giving up yards in big chunks and bailing themselves out by forcing turnovers. And while the Giants might hope to slow the game down by establishing the run and keeping Rodgers on the sideline, the last meeting between the two teams — a 38-35 victory by the Packers on a last-second field goal Dec. 4 — could mean Sunday is shaping up as another fast-paced game that comes down to the last possession.

With Eli Manning and the offense on a roll, the Giants like their chances this time around.

"I think if we get into a shootout like we did last time, I think we will be OK," wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "But it will have to come down to who has the last touch."

Ravens perfect at home

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens were perfect at home during the regular season and a .500 team on the road, which explains why they were so desperate to host at least one playoff game.

Baltimore (12-4) is the only NFL team to reach the playoffs in each of the last four seasons. In the previous three, however, the Ravens advanced as a wild-card and did not get to play at home.

Now, coming off a bye and playing in a venue where they went 8-0 during the regular season, the AFC North champions are confident that home-field advantage will be a big factor in their bid to defeat the Texans (11-6) and earn a berth in the conference title game.

Note

• Former Denver Broncos owner Edgar F. Kaiser Jr., who oversaw the trade that brought Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway to Denver, has died, according to a charitable foundation Kaiser established. He died Wednesday in Toronto. The cause of death wasn't immediately known. Kaiser was a businessman and philanthropist who lived in Vancouver, B.C.

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