Veteran Auburn Cornerback Talks Football

Carlos Rogers is one of Auburn's most experienced players on the defense and he's shooting for a banner junior season.

Auburn, Ala.--Without a doubt, the biggest question mark for the Auburn Tigers heading into the 2003 season is at cornerback following the departure of three veteran defenders. Now the time has come for someone to step up and take over the job opposite junior Carlos Rogers.

While there are several names in the running, the odds-on favorite is Junior Rosegreen. Rogers says the junior, who started last season at strong safety, is coming into his own following a year away from the position.

"Right now it's going pretty good," Rogers says. "Junior has played corner before so he just has to get back in the flow of things. I think it will work out fine. We also need the freshmen to step up because Junior can't carry that side and I can't carry my side. Everybody has to work together."

Trying to work into the rotation right out of high school are Patrick Lee and Eric Brock. Talented players with the size and speed to face college receivers, both have struggled to get a feel for the defense because everything has been thrown at them in a short period of time. No longer having freshmen only practices, those freshmen need to develop rapidly if they hope to to see action against USC to open the season.

"It's really tough for them because they are just coming in," Rogers says. "They didn't have the three days to prepare for it and to be able to work with the coaches. It's really hard and we have to move faster because our game is August 30. The coaches are really pushing them so if they want to do it they have to study their playbook and be active. They need to go against the first team offense so the coaches will get a real look at what they can do."

Carlos Rogers has been in the starting lineup the past two seasons.

Something that is different for Rogers this season is that he's been forced to take on a leadership role in the secondary. The most experienced of Auburn's secondary personnel along with Rosegreen, Rogers notes that both have been having a good time working with the younger players and getting them ready for the season.

"It's kind of new," Rogers says. "I know what the coaches expect of me. They want me to be a leader out there, me and Junior. We're the only ones that have really been playing in the whole secondary. It's a different role for me, but I think I can do it.

"It's real important. When I came in I needed that leadership from ‘T' (Travaris Robinson) and Hood (Roderick Hood). When you come here it's a different game. You don't know what's in store for you. That's what me and Junior are trying to do, lead them, because we once were there before."

Even though Rosegreen appears to be the leader for the vacant cornerback spot, all it would take was a couple of good performances out of Montae Pitts, Lamel Ages, or even the freshmen, to get him back to safety. It's no secret that the coaching staff would love to keep number four back deep. Also, Rogers says the move is a tough one for Rosegreen to make after playing safety all of last season.

"It's really going to be tough moving back to corner," Rogers says. "That's a different mindset out there because you are out on an island by yourself. You don't know what the wide receiver is going to do. It's a different mindset than backing off 10 yards as a safety and coming into the box and hitting. You have to cover all the time."

A big advantage for Auburn's secondary this season is the depth and talent up front as compared to recent seasons. With a horde of talented defensive linemen and linebackers, the Tigers should be able to pressure the quarterback more than they did last year. If that happens you can expect Rogers and company to be a very successful unit.

"It's real big," Rogers says of the pass rush. "We have a good front four and three linebackers that have been doing good. Travis (Travis Williams) has been stepping up. If we get pressure up front that will take some of the pressure off us. They are working hard up there to get a good pass rush so it will be easier on us back there."

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