Gus Malzahn expects Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway to play vs. Mercer

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn should be able to count on Kamryn Pettway as it looks to rebound from one of its worst offensive performances under Gus Malzahn against Mercer this weekend.

The junior running back, who totaled 74 yards (22 carries) at Clemson, has reportedly been dealing with plantar fasciitis.

“Uh, you know I expect him to be,” Gus Malzahn said on Tuesday morning. “We’ll see how he is. Like I said, there’s some others, too that got a little banged up. We’ll see how practice goes this week and have a better idea later in the week.”

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The head coach said he doesn’t know if Auburn co-starter Kerryon Johnson will be available in the backfield after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 1 against Georgia Southern.

“I’m not ready to say yet,” Malzahn said. “I mean I know he was out there right now moving around pretty good Sunday. We got some other guys banged up. I’m really not ready to say that. I’ll have to see how practice gores this week, as far as that goes.”

Malzahn didn’t address other players’ injuries directly and remained vague on the severity. That’s typical for the head coach when it comes to injuries.

It’s the same case for wide receiver Darius Slayton, who had hernia surgery earlier this year and suffered an injury against Georgia Southern.

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“Darius, you know he got hurt late in the first game and wasn’t able to practice, and he tried, I think he got in there six or seven plays just trying to do some different things,” Malzahn said. “But hopefully he’ll be healed up. we got to get him 100 percent. Obviously, he’s a guy that’s a deep threat. But that was a tough one, not having him.”

Still, the most concerning injury appears to be the one Pettway is dealing with. Despite not being 100 percent in Death Valley, he was the only Auburn running back to attempt a carry.

That came after sophomore Kam Martin recorded 14 carries (136 yards) against Georgia Southern. The decision was to use its veteran rusher on the road against the No. 3 team in the country, but Malzahn admits looking back things could have been slightly different.

While Pettway should be available in Auburn’s homecoming game against Mercer, it may be a good time for Kam Martin to carry the bulk of the duties in the backfield.

“Obviously looking back, we could have been more patient with the run,” Malzahn said. “We thought there were some things there in the passing game but obviously we didn’t get it done there. As a coach you look back and you try to correct the things moving forward in the same type situations.”