BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU coach Ed Orgeron does not expect star pass rusher Arden Key to be ready to play in the Tigers’ season opener against Brigham Young on Sept. 2. But he’s also not ruling out the possibility after seeing how quickly Key is making a recovery from a late-spring shoulder surgery.
“I’m not expecting him to play,” Orgeron told reporters Thursday. “But nothing that dude does surprises me.”
Key is already back to practice ahead of schedule, though he is not yet participating in full-contact drills.
“He’s not hitting,” Orgeron said. “He’s doing some walk-through stuff. He’s got his pads on. He’s stepping through stuff, using his hands. Doing pass-rush moves. But he’s not taking any contact.”
Orgeron said that Key is scheduled to go back to his doctor for a checkup next week, the outcome of which could determine whether he’s able to face the Cougars at NRG Stadium in Houston.
“He’s doing some things,” Orgeron said. “I just don’t know when he’s going to be ready and what the doctor is going to say.”
Key should be the most sought-after LSU player in this year’s NFL draft class. As a sophomore, he tied Oliver Lawrence’s single-season school record with 12 sacks. NFL.com draft expert Daniel Jeremiah believes Key compares favorably to Hall of Fame defensive end Jason Taylor. And though he’ll be tough to replace, even if only for a game, Orgeron likes LSU’s options.
He said the most heated competition on the team in camp is at the B-linebacker spot, where redshirt freshmen Ray Thornton and Andre Anthony and freshman K’Lavon Chaisson have been practicing in Key’s absence.
“Those guys are fighting hard,” Orgeron said. “Ray, Andre and K’Lavon. There are some battles. Who’s going to play?
“This scrimmage Saturday will tell us a lot. Starting next week we’ll be putting guys in the positions (on the depth chart) they’ll be playing in.”