Injuries A Question Mark For Tigers

Auburn Coach Gene Chizik and cornerback Carlos Rogers talk about the matchup with Arkansas and Tuesday's practice.

Auburn, Ala.--When Auburn takes on the seventh-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday morning it may be without one of its top defensive players, cornerback Carlos Rogers.

The junior was held out of Tuesday's practice as he continues to recover from broken bones in his thumb suffered early in last Saturday's win over Tennessee. Currently in a cast, Rogers said he is not certain whether he will play or watch Saturday's game.

"I don't really know," Rogers said when asked if he would play this weekend. "I have to see the doctor tomorrow (Wednesday) and see how the swelling goes down. They'll determine whether I play or not. I want to play. I have a good feeling about it myself, but we have to see how my bone heals. Then I will know."

If Rogers can't go, defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik said the defense has plenty of players to take up the slack, both at cornerback and safety, places that Junior Rosegreen has seen action the last two games. Expect Donnay Young and Karibi Dede to see more action this week as well as Lamel Ages and Montae Pitts, who could become key players for the Tigers if Rogers is unable to go.

"Both of them are going to have to play if Carlos can't, at some point or another," Chizik said. "Where that goes and who starts and that type of thing, I probably won't know until Saturday morning."

Jay Ratliff and Marquies Gunn during Tuesday's practice.

Another injured Tiger was back on the practice field taking part in drills. Junior defensive end Jay Ratliff, out since the Georgia Tech game with a high ankle sprain, was back on the practice field Tuesday and looked to be moving around well. A physical player who has the size and strength to be good against the run, his return would add even more depth on the strong side of Auburn's defense. Chizik said that it's going to be wait-and-see on Ratliff for this weekend.

"Jay is still working back into it," Chizik said. "It's going to be touch-and-go for him to be honest with you. It was a week-by-week and now we've upgraded to day-by-day."

With a trip to Arkansas on the horizon to face the powerful Razorbacks in a place they very seldom lose under Coach Houston Nutt, the Auburn Tigers appeared focused and energetic on the practice field Tuesday in a workout that lasted just over two and a half hours. Chizik said he was pleased with the effort and intensity the team showed in learning the game plan for the Hogs.

"Practice went well today I thought," the defensive coordinator said. "I thought they were all very in tune to everything. They were very bright-eyed and alert. We had a very good practice today, I thought."

Offensively, the Tigers had a solid practice and worked on installing the plan for Saturday's game. Tailback Ronnie Brown, who strained a hamstring Saturday night, appeared to be moving fine on the sidelines during Tuesday's practice, but did not take part. Coach Tommy Tuberville said Tuesday that Brown would not play unless he was 100 percent by game time. Brown is expected to make the trip to Arkansas and will likely test his hamstring before the coaches make a final decision.

Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and can be seen on Jefferson Pilot Television. The game will be homecoming for the Razorbacks, the fourth time that has been the case in this series. Auburn was the homecoming opponent for the first time in 1993 and the Tigers came away 31-21 victory. In 1997 Auburn defeated the Hogs 26-21 and fell to them in 1999 by a 34-19 score.


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