Football Tigers Work On Kicking Game and More

Auburn, Ala.--Fullback Jake Slaughter and the other members of the senior class worked the final two-a-days practice of their collegiate careers on Monday evening, a much lighter session than the morning workout.

While munching on a piece of watermelon on Monday night following a two-hour workout held on three different fields, Slaughter noted the traditional watermelon cutting brought back lots memories of previous two-a-day workouts for a senior who has played linebacker and defensive end prior to finding a home at fullback.

The big fullback's play has been one of the highlights of preseason practice so far for the Auburn football team and offensive coordinator Al Borges said to expect Slaughter to be a key part of the 2005 offense.

Borges' offensive group spent most of the practice going over the execution of plays as the Tigers worked out in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets. They began the session on the intramural fields working on kickoff returns.

Devin Aromashodu was the featured kickoff returner and other Tigers working with the number one team include Brad Lester, Kevin Sears, Danny Perry, Cole Bennett, Carl Stewart, Steve Gandy, Lorenzo Ferguson, Karibi Dede, Eric Brock and Tony Bell.

Others getting looks as kickoff returners included Tristan Davis, Robert Dunn, Courtney Taylor, Kenny Irons and Brad Lester.

Kody Bliss, John Vaughn and newcomer Zach Kutch are all getting work as the kickoff man. Bliss, the starting punter, has been the most consistent at kicking the ball deep.

As the Tigers were finishing their kicking drills, they were chased off the intramural fields by lightning in the area and resumed practice at their indoor facility at the football complex during an intense thunderstorm. When Slaughter remembers his final two-a-days at Auburn, he will remember them as wet ones because the Tigers have practiced in the rain and on wet fields almost every session this month.

During the indoor part of the practice, the offense and defense worked separately with the defense reading and reacting to formations and the offense working on the execution of plays.

QB Brandon Cox (12) listens for instructions from offensive coordinator Al Borges before running a play on Monday at the indoor facility. Blake Field (16) also listens to the coach.

The Tigers finished the practice on their artificial turf outdoor facility. The linemen had a brisk-paced series of one-on-one drills. The highlight of that session was the work of true freshman defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, who got cheers from his teammates when he had back-to-back nice moves to get past guard Tim Duckworth in pass protection drills, something that rarely happens against Duckworth, who has been playing well as a projected starter.

Coach Tommy Tuberville singled out Marks after the practice for his good play and noted that he has a chance to avoid a redshirt season. The coach said tight ends Tommy Trott, Gabe McKenzie and Andrew McCain plus linebacker Tray Blackmon are true freshmen who have a chance of playing this year, too. He says that several of the young defensive backs could join them. Freshmen Jerraud Powers and Aairon Savage have been impressive in workouts at cornerback.

Freshman tight end Andrew McCain has some watermelon following Monday evening's practice.

"I would say Sen'Derrick Marks is getting pretty close," Tuberville said. "If he keeps practicing the way he has been practicing, we are going to have a hard time keeping him from playing. He is playing like he has been here for a long time."

Tuberville said the weather problems didn't prevent the Tigers from getting their Monday practice goals accomplished. They are scheduled to have their final intramural fields practice at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday and will take the day off on Wednesday as fall semester classes begin.

Anthony Mix says he should be able to have full contact later in week after getting back out on the practice field on Monday. The senior receiver took a blow to the stomach in a collision with David Irons and Will Herring in the scrimmage on Saturday.

He was held out of practice on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning as a precaution to make sure he didn't have any spleen problems. "Probably by Thursday I will be full go," Mix said. "I just went to make sure I didn't injure my spleen. They did a CAT scan and everything I was good."

Mix is another player who has had a solid preseason. "I feel pretty good about the way I am playing now, but I have a long way to go," he noted. "Knowing that I missed most of the spring, I think I am pretty much catching up to the tempo of the game. I have got to get ready for game time."

*With redshirt freshman Merrill Johnson out of action until September as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder, true freshman Tray Blackmon has moved up to his spot on the second team. Veteran linebacker coach Joe Whitt says he is pleased with how the highly-regarded newcomer is progressing.

*The Tigers will have their final practice at the intramural fields at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. It is open to the public, but practices after that will be close.

Devin Aromashodu (1) and Kevin Hobbs (49) enjoyed watermelon on Monday night after practice.

*Following the practice on Monday, the team had its traditional watermelon cutting to signal the end of two-a-days.

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