AUBURN, Ala. — The importance of the break following the Iron Bowl was clear as Auburn finished its first Sugar Bowl practice on Wednesday afternoon.
Though several players battled injuries through the latter part of the regular season, head coach Gus Malzahn said his entire team participated in the first of eight workouts at the Auburn Athletics Complex leading up to the January 2 matchup against Oklahoma.
Arguably the most notable return was that of quarterback Sean White. The sophomore missed the Tigers’ senior night game against Alabama A&M as well as Auburn’s 30-12 loss to Alabama with a nagging shoulder injury.
“Sean practiced the whole time and looked to me like he was 100 percent,” Malzahn said. “He’s ready to go. He did everything those other quarterbacks did and didn’t miss a beat. That’s encouraging.”
Sophomore running back Kamryn Pettway was also back in action after attempting to play at less than 100 percent during his team’s trip to Tuscaloosa.
The running back, who was named offensive MVP at the team’s banquet on December 10, carried the ball 12 times in Bryant-Denny Stadium, amassing 26 total yards. Pettway was one of many previously injured players who practiced without any physical limitations.
“Kam was good,” Malzahn said. “He went through practice, like I said, he did everything.”
Malzahn also said running back Kerryon Johnson (ankle) was moving without a limp and Stanton Truitt (ankle) was “full speed.”
Others who returned included senior wide receiver Marcus Davis (shoulder) and defensive lineman Byron Cowart (appendix).
Players from Auburn’s secondary, including senior cornerback Josh Holsey as well as sophomore Carlton Davis, dealt with minor injures throughout the year, but returned to practice recovered after the break.
“I think the last two weeks have been really good for those guys,” Malzahn said. “They were all out there and participating and so that’s good. It was good to have everybody back out there.”
Senior Devaroe Lawrence, who had knee surgery earlier in the week, was the only injured player who did not participate in Wednesday’s workout. Stephen Davis Jr. was not at practice for undisclosed reasons.
The health of the Tigers, particularly on offense, remains the most important factor as Auburn prepares to take on the No. 7 Sooners in New Orleans.
“It’s very important. We were playing very good football when we were healthy and we were really in a rhythm and running the ball, throwing the ball well,” Malzahn said. “So it’s good to have everybody back.”