New Look For Tigers In Sunday Practice

Auburn's offense tested out the new-look game jerseys during Sunday's practice.

Auburn, Ala.--Continuing a string of tough practices designed to make sure his team is ready for the season, the Auburn Tigers had another physical session on Sunday that featured work on the goal offense and defense to end the session.

"It was a good finish to a hard weekend," Tuberville says. "It was a two and a half hour practice that was very physical. It has been a physical last few days, but these guys have held in there pretty good. We had a few guys back off the injured list and I don't think we added anybody today. This is the first day. We've got some guys beat up a little bit but they finished out.

"We did several situation periods," he adds. "We had a short-yardage and goal line scrimmage at the end and it was full speed. We had a couple of good plays by the defense and a couple of good plays by the offense. Pat Sims picked up a fumble and ran it back about 90 (yards). Trahan (Patrick Trahan) caused the fumble. Brad Lester scored one for the offense. It was a pretty good little scrimmage at the end."

Tuberville says despite blowing the whistle dead after Sims had run 40 or more yards with a convoy of blockers, the big guy would have scored easily. That typifies the 180 degree change and a strong preseason camp for Sims at defensive tackle. His struggles last season have been much publicized but Tuberville says he believes the big sophomore has turned the corner and is on his way to helping the Tigers this season.

"Pat left for a while and came back and worked his way back and earned it," Tuberville says. "He made up all the work and has done good…I think he's over the hump now."

Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite practiced with a protective covering on his right wrist.

A big boost for the defense on Sunday came with the return of number four David Irons to the practice field. After missing just over a week because of a strained hamstring, Irons was back on the field and Tuberville says he made several nice plays as he tries to get back into the swing of things.

The defense got more good news on the injury front as X-Rays of both Merrill Johnson and Jonathan Wilhite came back negative for broken bones. Johnson, who had been bothered by a sore ankle, took part in Friday's scrimmage but was held out of Saturday's practice. He didn't practice on Sunday either, but is expected back early next week. Wilhite injured his hand during Friday's scrimmage and didn't practice on Saturday as well, but was back on Sunday with his right hand in a protective brace.

Several players missed the practice with minor injuries as linebacker Will Herring (hamstring) sat out and Tuberville says he's likely to miss several more days. Wide receiver Courtney Taylor didn't practice, but Tuberville says he could return early next week.

While King Dunlap returned to practice a day after sitting out because of back spasms, the Tigers continue to be thin up front as Leon Hart (abdominal strain), Tyronne Green (flu) and Oscar Gonzalez (dislocated toe) all missed Sunday's practice. They were riding bikes on the side and running though and all could return this week in time to prepare for the opener against Washington State.

Fullback Stephen Gowland tries out his jersey for the fit. The players seemed to like the fit and feel of their new digs.

One of the highlights of the day for the coaches and players was the chance to test out the new jerseys made by Under Armour. A lightweight blend that is half the weight of Auburn's former jerseys made by Russell Athletic, the new styles were given a test run by the offense on Sunday. Tuesday the defense will try out their jerseys. The test runs give the players a chance to see if any alterations need to be made before the first game.

"The Under Armour jerseys, we had them on out there today," Tuberville says. "The players really like them. They are light and very flexible."

Auburn will take Monday off before returning to work Tuesday morning. Despite his earlier comments that a depth chart could be out on Monday, Tuberville now says it could be Wednesday or Thursday before it's completed because of the injuries. The Tigers are expected to have physical practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before backing off going into the weekend to begin preparations for Washington State.

"We'll begin a little bit of scout team Thursday and mostly Friday will be scout team," Tuberville says. "We'll get two days jump on it but you don't want to do too much of it."

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