Two Key Tigers Return To Practice

Auburn, Ala.--Although there were clouds all around, the sun shone brightly on the Auburn Tigers Thursday afternoon for the first time all week as two key performers thought to be out of Saturday night's game against the top-ranked Florida Gators returned to practice.

Defensive tackle DeMarco McNeil and cornerback Travaris Robinson both practiced on Thursday as the Tigers appear healthier than they were just one day ago. Neither appear to be full speed yet but both should be ready if needed this weekend. McNeil continues to be bothered by a knee problem, but could be beneficial in short yardage and obvious running situations. Robinson, who sprained his knee early in the Mississippi State game, was moving well on Thursday and will likely see some action when starter Carlos Rogers needs a blow.

With McNeil and Robinson back in the fold, the Tigers wrapped up preparations for the Gators with a short but crisp practice Thursday. With several starters on both sides of the ball still doubtful for Saturday night's game, the coaches continued to work the back-ups in practice to get them ready for extended playing time this weekend.

"He looked pretty good today," Tuberville said of Robinson. "We've got him on special teams and it looks like he's going to be able to play but we'll see how he is after today's practice."

The position of concern continues to be linebacker as fullback/linebacker Brandon Johnson was held out of Thursday's practice with a slight groin injury. Tuberville noted that it was just precautionary and he should be ready for Saturday's game. "We're just trying to get it strong where he can tape it up and go," he said.

With all the injuries at linebacker, Auburn fans could see both Phillip Pate and walk-on Jamaal Greer in the game for certain situations. With only Dontarrious Thomas and Mayo Sowell at linebacker for much of the day Thursday, the chances of one or both playing some Saturday night are getting better by the minute.

Now that the hay is in the barn, so to speak, the Tigers can turn their full attention to the actual game Saturday night. Tuberville said he's ready to see what his team is going to play like when the cameras start rolling for the nationally televised game. He knows one part of the team must play better for the Tigers to come away with the win.

"We kind of eased up today but the guys are anxious to play," he said of his team. "I'm anxious to see how we will do. I think we've challenged the offense all week, we've got to start scoring points. No matter how well our defense plays, if we don't score any more points sooner or later Damon (Duval) is going to miss a field goal. You've got to score some more points."

Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 6:45 and can be seen on ESPN. The Tigers return to action next Saturday when they take on Louisiana Tech for homecoming at 1 p.m.

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