Photo by Jason Caldwell

Stephen Roberts Is Suspended for Auburn's Football Opener Vs. Clemson

Stephen Roberts will not play on Saturday night when the Auburn football team opens its 2016 season.

Auburn, Ala.--Stephen Roberts, who finished the 2015 Auburn football season as a starter at safety, is suspended for the opening game vs. Clemson.

Coach Gus Malzahn said on Tuesday that the status of Roberts will be reviewed after game one and a determination will be made then when he will be back. "It is going to be week to week," Malzahn said on Tuesday. "We will see what happens and how he responds."

The junior was arrested during a traffic stop last Wednesday night and charged with possession of a firearm without a license and attempting to elude an officer, which are both misdemeanors. That led to him being benched for Saturday night’s game. He is not expected to dress with the team when the Tigers take on Clemson at 8 p.m. CDT at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Malzahn has listed junior Tray Matthews and senior Rudy Ford as the starters at safety for the opening game. Ford is also listed No. 1 at the nickel position.

Markell Boston, a redshirt sophomore, is listed as the backup to Matthews and junior Nick Ruffin, a part-time starter last year, is the backup to Ford.

Josh Holsey, a fifth-year senior, can also play the safety spots in addition to being listed as the No. 2 nickel. Holsey can also play cornerback and has starting experience at that position as well as at safety.

Roberts, who originally worked at cornerback as a freshman in 2014, made 26 tackles as a sophomore safety with 21 coming in the final four games when he was a starter.

Holsey said the Tigers are going to need everybody to be ready to perform on Saturday night, including the new starter at cornerback, Javaris Davis, and another young cornerback, true freshman John Brousssard.

"The whole secondary has stepped up in tremendous ways with Javaris, who’s a redshirt freshman, and John, who has just come in and doesn’t really know anything, and Markell," Holsey said. "Those guys have really bought into the system and Coach (Wesley )McGriff has done a really good job of getting those guys ready to play.

"We tell everybody each and every day that everybody in the room has to play, you never know what will happen," the senior added. "Anybody can go down at any given point so everybody has to be ready to play. They have done a really good job in practice and watching film and coming up and meeting, me and Markell just met today because I kind of know what’s going on.

"Getting those guys prepared and ready to play, I just tell them you’ve got to play it like a normal game," said Holsey, who missed the 2015 season with a knee injury. "You can’t go out there and look in the stands because you might get shell-shocked. There’s going to be a lot of people out there and they’re going to be rocking on Saturday.”

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