Tiger Offensive Lineman Ready If Needed

Auburn's Jonathan Palmer and the Tigers are getting ready for an SEC road test at Kentucky.

Auburn, Ala.--With offensive guard Tim Duckworth battling to overcome a groin pull and other nagging injuries that kept him out of practice on Wednesday, versatile junior Jonathan Palmer may start in his place on Saturday when the Tigers face the Kentucky Wildcats.

"The way it looks now, it looks like I might actually be starting," Palmer tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "That is always fun to have a chance to showcase my ability."

Palmer, a 6-5, 320-pounder, started game three this year when Duckworth was injured. Getting the opportunity to play this week would be more exciting to the junior who can play every position on the offensive line.

"Starting against Ball State was fun, but no disrespect to them, it is a lot bigger deal starting against an SEC team," Palmer notes.

"As long as I work my technique and maintain my effort, which is the main thing, I believe I will do pretty well. Effort is the main thing."

The Tigers and the Wildcats will kick off at noon CST at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington where Auburn hasn't played since 1995.

Auburn takes a 6-2 record into the contest and is 4-1 in the SEC. Kentucky got its first SEC win last week vs. Mississippi State and is 1-3 in the conference and 2-5 overall. The other victory was a 41-29 decision on Sept. 10th vs. Idaho State.

Palmer can play center, guard or tackle for the Tigers.

Offensive line coach Hugh Nall says that Palmer has more than enough talent to be successful. at guard. The coach notes that Duckworth had been playing very well in recent weeks, but was not his normal self in the Ole Miss game because of his injuries. Nall says if he had realized that Duckworth was going to be so far off his regular performance level, he would have rested him vs. the Rebels.

Palmer says he is looking forward to possibly seeing extensive playing time on Saturday. "I guess my favorite part of playing in the games is succeeding," he says. "When you go out there and pancake somebody or make a good block that is part of a touchdown run, that feels good. Although the offensive linemen don't get much credit, it feels good to make the team better."

Palmer made a strong push for a starting job in preseason, but opened the season as a reserve. If he is frustrated by the close miss, he isn't letting that be known. "Whatever is best for the team is what I want," he says. "Coach Nall wants to do the best thing for the team and I support him whichever way he wants to go."

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