AUBURN, Ala. — As Auburn returned to practice Sunday night it was clear the bye week had served its purpose.
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee saw an energized team ‘bouncing around’ the Auburn Athletics Complex after a couple of days off, ready to prepare for the No. 17 Arkansas Razorbacks who will visit Jordan-Hare this Saturday.
Head coach Gus Malzahn’s staff used last week’s downtime focusing on players they felt needed more repetition while allowing starters a chance to get closer to full health.
“For this point in the season, six games in, I think we’re in decent shape for the stretch run,” Lashlee said. “… I don’t know that anybody is 100 percent at this point in the year to be honest with you.”
Still, Lashlee was pleased with what he saw in an extended evening practice. For starters, running back Kerryon Johnson, who Malzahn said last Thursday was ‘desperate’ to get back after an ankle injury at Mississippi State, was finally back in action.
“He was moving around. He ran the ball some, caught some balls, so it was good to see him out there moving around,” Lashlee said. “It’s a day-to-day thing, but after today I feel like he’s got a shot (to play this weekend), and just knowing the kid like I do, we’ll see as the week goes on but I’m optimistic still.”
Yet another reassuring sight was a Marcus Davis who Lashlee said looked, “the healthiest he’s been, knock on wood, since the season’s started.”
Through Auburn’s first six games, the wide receiver was playing at times with his hand taped and splinted up, which perhaps explained several uncharacteristic early season drops.
With a second half of SEC play approaching, and several road games still to go, the senior’s importance remains crucial to the Tigers’ offensive production.
“I think he’s going to be out of that and be full speed now,” Lashlee said.” Marcus is a guy, once again, the numbers may not be where he would want them or where you would want them as a senior wide out, but I think he’s proven over the course of his career here that he can make big plays when we need them.
Center Xavier Dampeer was another offensive player who was dealing with injuries (knee) before the bye week. The offensive line continued “mixing and matching” different guys for possible scenarios the line could see against the Razorbacks and for the rest of the year.
Dampeer’s status was still somewhat unclear on Sunday, but it was apparent he was feeling better.
“I think he’s getting closer to 100 percent,” Lashlee said. “I don’t know if he’s 100 percent right now, but he’s better. He’s moving around pretty good. We feel like we have all those guys ready to roll, however we need to do it.”