Running Backs Not A Concern For Tuberville

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about the injuries at running back and how Wednesday's practice went.

Auburn, Ala.–-Continuing preparations for Saturday's game against the Kentucky Wildcats (2-5), the 17th-ranked Auburn Tigers (6-2) practiced for just over two hours in helmets and shoulder pads. Coach Tommy Tuberville says the workout was a good one for his team as they get ready for their third road game in four weeks.

"It was a good practice today," Tuberville says. "A little cooler, but a lot drier than yesterday. We worked on a lot more of the kicking game today because of the weather yesterday. We were able to get most of that in. We cut practice back as we will the next couple of weeks to try to get our legs back a little bit quicker."

The results are in for sophomore running back Carl Stewart and the news is as good as can be expected as his knee injury is just a grade two sprain of the MCL. He's expected to miss at least the next two weeks, but could return for the Alabama game. No surgery is required. Running back Brad Lester will also miss the Kentucky game with a strained groin, but could return to face Georgia in two weeks.

Quentin Groves and Stanley McClover work during a special teams drill on Wednesday.

In addition to the running backs junior guard Timmy Duckworth is the only player to miss Wednesday's practice because of injury. Also suffering from a strained groin, Tuberville says Duckworth could be ready to go this weekend, but if not then the job will go to Jonathan Palmer.

"Duckworth did not practice," Tuberville says. "If he doesn't practice tomorrow then he'll (Palmer) will start. We're trying to give him some rest. He could have practiced today. We had the doctors check him and he's fine. He's just needs to strengthen it. We're just trying to get him back to 100 percent. He knows what to do. He's been practicing full speed. That's the reason why he could practice tomorrow and start."

Just like any season the Tigers have several players beat-up some, but able to go this weekend. Among them are linebacker Antarrious Williams (burner in shoulder) and running back Kenny Irons (bruised thigh). Already thin at running back, Tuberville says Irons' injury isn't something that is a concern for the coaching staff or the player.

"He's got to be sore," Tuberville says. "But, it's not any different than Ronnie (Ronnie Brown) or Carnell (Carnell Williams) were last year. He's a running back in this league. He's carried the ball almost 100 times in the last three games. That's quite a few I would say."

With Kentucky on the horizon there's a chance that Irons might not have to shoulder as much of the load in the running game because of the poor run defense by the Wildcats. That could turn out to be true, but Tuberville says you have to prepare for every game with the intention that it will be the toughest you have all season.

"We're going (there) to win," Tuberville says. "He's our starting running back. We'll see what happens. He'll be the first one out and the last one to leave...we'll go in just like we do for any other game. It's a conference game and they mean the same as the rest of them. You have to go in full speed. You would like not to (run Kenny 30 times) and I would have liked to not have done it last week, but we had to do it."

Another option this weekend at tailback for the Tigers is redshirt freshman Tristan Davis. The fastest player on the Auburn team, Davis has worked at both running back and safety this season and only made the switch back to offense on Sunday. Tuberville says he's unsure of what they'll get from Davis if he's needed.

"I don't know," Tuberville says. "Tristan is just a safeguard for somebody getting hurt. Tristan knows the offense, which is a luxury. That's pretty smart of the guys doing that in two-a-days. It's just a luxury to have him."

The Tigers will practice on Thursday and head to Lexington Friday afternoon. Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for noon central time and there is no television for the game.

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