Tigers Return To Practice On A Tragic Tuesday

After taking Monday off, the Tigers were back on the practice field getting ready for their first road trip of the season.

Auburn, Ala.--Even though most of the players and coaches would have preferred to have been elsewhere at the moment, the football day went on as scheduled Tuesday as the Auburn Tigers practiced for just over two hours in shorts and helmets in preparation for this weekend's game against the LSU Tigers. As could have been expected, the day wasn't the greatest in terms of concentration on the field.

"Other than the distractions of what happened here today in both New York and Washington, D.C., we're trying to focus on getting ready for LSU," defensive coordinator John Lovett said after Tuesday's practice. "Everybody is kind of a little distracted because of that but we're trying to get the kids ready and push through it.

"I won't say we had the greatest concentration level out there today. It's been better, but that's probably a lot to do with what everybody has been listening to on the radio and on TV. But they were out there practicing and getting lined up and running around so we've got to start on it. We've got to go on no matter what happens until we know more."

Working on installing the game plan for LSU, the defense and offense spent much of the day in position work as the individual groups drilled on lining up correctly and learning their assignments for the LSU game. Missing from practice was wide receiver Deandre Green, who injured his ankle Saturday against Ole Miss. He was running on the side and should be fine for Saturday.

Back at practice and going full speed were both Marcel Willis and Jeris McIntyre. With Green expected back and both Willis and McIntyre ready for play, the wide receiving corps looks to be heading into the LSU game close to full strength for the first time this season. Running back Carnell Williams was also at practice and is also ready for play as the young Tiger offense loads up for a battle in the Bayou.

Defensively only a knee sprain to Javor Mills kept the unit from being full strength. The return of Rashaud Walker to the secondary on Tuesday was a major boost for the defense as Roderick Hood spent most of his day at cornerback opposite Travaris Robinson. Lovett said that Hood and Robinson will likely be the starting corners Saturday with Walker at the rover and Roshard Gilyard at the whip.

One of the few Auburn defenders that has had the pleasure of playing a football game in "Death Valley," Walker said he hopes to be back to normal for Saturday's contest after struggling to get back from a severe ankle sprain he suffered during practice the week before the opener against Ball State.

"I'm about 90 percent," he said. "I got in there Saturday (against Ole Miss) and did what I could do. I did pretty good but coach needed me in a certain part of the game and I got in there and did the best that I could do. The only thing that I was worried about was my man coverage, going full speed against receivers. Everything else I wasn't really concerned about. I'll be 100 percent this week."

That will be important not only because of his talent but also the leadership he displays when the game is on the line. Very confident in his abilities and the abilities of his teammates, Walker's return to this young defense could bring immediate stability to a secondary that is struggling to recover from a shaky fourth quarter against Ole Miss.

"It's tough down there, that's a tough environment to play in," Walker said. "If you've never been in an environment like that you can get real nervous and all. Sometimes in games like that on the road, experience plays a part in dealing with the pressure because things aren't going to go right always like it would at home. The more experienced guys you have the better off you'll be. I'll just try to get well and provide some of that on the field."

The Tigers will continue working towards Saturday's game against the LSU Tigers with practices on Wednesday and Thursday. Because of the events earlier Tuesday in New York City and Washington, D.C., it's not known if the Tigers will still fly to Baton Rouge for the game this weekend. If they are unable to travel by air, they will likely bus to their destination sometime Friday morning.


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