Tuberville Pleased With Football Practice

Quarterback Brandon Cox participated in scrimmage-like conditions in Friday's Auburn football practice.

Auburn, Ala.-–The return of quarterback Brandon Cox to practice on Friday highlighted a day that Coach Tommy Tuberville called a good one for his team. After missing several days with a sore arm from throwing too much during two-a-days, Cox returned to throwing during the practice and said he's anxious to get more work in during the coming practices.

"It felt good," Cox said. "I got in and got a little team work. I didn't throw in all the drills, I didn't throw in skelly because I'm just trying to ease back into it. When I did throw there wasn't any pain. It felt good.

"Things were moving a little faster and I tried to just get back into it and into the feel of things. Tomorrow I'll hopefully go back and practice and throw in all the drills...tomorrow I'm sure I'll do a little more and then hopefully by Sunday be back into it 100 percent."

Cox threw the ball around a dozen times during team drills, but was held out of skelly situations, something he hopes to take part in Saturday.

While he hasn't been cleared to throw by the trainers, his condition hasn't kept him off the practice field. Because of that he's been close by offensive coordinator Al Borges while he works with back-ups Blake Field and Calvin Booker. Cox said that has allowed him to stay current with the offense and not get behind.

"It helps just being out there and being able to watch and learn," Cox said. "You can learn different things just from standing back and watching. I learned a few things from standing back and watching.

Once again the weather had an effect on football practice at Auburn as lightning in the area force the Tigers to spend part of the day indoors. While it was an inconvenience, Tuberville said that the day was a good one for his team despite having to spend part of it inside.

"We had to go inside for about 30 minutes and got off to a slow start," Tuberville said. "We had a good practice, a lot of good team work and individual work. We're still working three teams so we haven't gotten in any kind of game mode yet. We're working more on special teams. They are looking good. We'll really concentrate on them starting Wednesday of next week. Today was a pretty lively practice. The offense won early and the defense won late. That makes me feel good. At least one side can play good at one time."

Another Tiger has given up football because of injuries, the second in two days and both at the same position. Joining Kyle Derozan as a regular student is junior Kevis Burnam. A fourth-year player, Burnam has had two knee surgeries while at Auburn and Tuberville said he's decided to give up the game. He's scheduled to graduate in one year.

"They've looked at him and looked at him hard and his knees won't function," Tuberville said. "He's still with us, but not playing."

The injury bug once again came up to bite the Tigers on Friday as running back Carl Stewart injured his wrist on a fall and was being taken for x-rays. Tuberville said they're hopeful there's not much to it. Defensive ends Marquies Gunn and Stanley McClover both continue to be held out of practice with hamstring problems although Tuberville said Gunn should return to practice on Saturday and McClover on Tuesday.

Offensive lineman Leon Hart hits the blocking sled with Coach Hugh Nall looking on. Hart is working at tackle, guard and some center for the Tigers.

Tuberville also said that linebacker Merrill Johnson is wearing a brace and is running and going through some drills. He could return to practice and having contact by the end of next week. Running back Brad Lester is getting closer to 100 percent as well and Tuberville said he's looking better in practice. Wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez was held out of Friday's practice with a virus.

One player that may be injured more severely is fullback Michael McLaughlin. Last fall he suffered problems with his ankles and Tuberville said that is the situation once again. Because of that Jake Slaughter is currently being backed-up by walk-on fullback Andrew Turman.

"Mike McLaughlin's ankles are real bad," Tuberville said. "He can't go. He's just out right now. He's had a real problem with them. He made it through spring real good, but two-a-days have really been a grind on him. They're hurting him real bad."

Auburn will return to practice Saturday morning at 8:30 and a practice is scheduled for Sunday at 6:45 p.m. before the team will take Monday off in their normal weekly routine.

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