Let's Play Two: DL Learning Second Position

Josh Thompson is pushing for playing time at a pair of positions.

Auburn, Ala.--Defensive line coach Don Dunn says that Josh Thompson may be able to help the Tigers at a second position this season. Through seven spring practices, the experiment with the redshirt sophomore splitting time at noseguard and tackle seems to be working smoothly.

"It is going well," Thompson tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "It is a little more of a learning process trying to learn tackle. Right now I am trying to make sure I don't forget anything from noseguard and not get my assignments mixed up with what I am supposed to do at tackle. Other than that, I am trying to learn how to play against the type of blocks tackles get."

Josh Thompson uses his massive arm to take down Carl Stewart during a recent practice.

Thompson played in all 13 games last season and contributed 23 tackles as the backup to Tommy Jackson, who is back this season as a senior. Dunn notes that Thompson is playing well enough to be a threat to start at noseguard or tackle this season.

"I am having a good time out there this spring," Thompson says. "I have no injuries and everything is going well right now. I learned a lot last year, and I am trying to carry it over to next year."

The 301-pounder from Statesboro, Ga., High says he is certainly way ahead of where he was during spring drills in 2004. "The extra year of experience makes a ton of difference," Thompson says. "I know what I am doing now. I know the plays. I don't have to worry thinking about what I am supposed to do. I can just go out there and play ball."

There has been virtually no learning curve for Thompson at noseguard even though the Tigers have a new defensive coordinator with David Gibbs taking over from Gene Chizik. "Truthfully, at the defensive line positions there isn't really any change at all except we are stemming at the noseguard position a little bit more," Thompson says. :Other than there are the same plays."

The defense, which was outplayed much of last spring, is doing better vs. the offense so far this spring. The Tigers developed into one of the top defenses in the country last year despite the early struggles in 2004. Thompson is upbeat about the 2005 defensive potential.

"I think we are going to be fine as long as we keep progressing and some of the younger guys step up and we have a little bit of depth," he says.

The Tigers are currently practicing with all three first team linebackers healing their injuries. That group includes Antarrious Williams, Travis Williams and Kevin Sears. Thompson doesn't see that as much of a problem for the defensive development this sprig.

"It may help us a little bit because we know we have to step up our game at other position," he reasons. "The older guys at linebacker are good already and know what they are doing. This will give the younger guys some more work and get them ready to play."

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