Auburn, Ala.--Coming off a solid homecoming win over Tulane, the seventh-ranked Auburn Tigers (7-1) got back on the practice field Sunday with a short workout as they begin preparations for the Ole Miss Rebels. Injuries were the story of the day as several players missed the practice with minor bumps and bruises but should be back this week.
One of those is tailback Brad Lester. After coming out of Saturday's game early when his groin tightened up, Lester says that he should be fine to practice on Tuesday and go this weekend against the Rebels. With tailback Kenny Irons taking the day off Lester was scheduled to be the main man for the Tigers but instead played just a few snaps. He says that he feels much better after a rehab session on Sunday and is ready to go.
"It feels good," Lester says. "It was giving me a little problem on Saturday and we had the game in hand so they didn't want to take the chance on hurting it even more. We're just taking precautions for it and I should be practicing again on Tuesday."
The same is true of Irons. Practicing Sunday, Irons should be close to full speed and will play against the Rebels Lester says. Fullback Carl Stewart worked on the side during Sunday's workout and coach Eddie Gran says they'll see how he's progressed by Tuesday before making a decision.
Also on offense the Tigers are dealing with the loss of number two center Jason Bosley because of a knee injury. Already without starting center Joe Cope, the Tigers will turn to veteran Jonathan Palmer at the position if Bosley is unable to go. Auburn's starting right tackle, Palmer will be replaced on the outside by either Antwoin Daniels or Leon Hart, both of whom are working with the first offense.
The good news is that senior Timmy Duckworth is better and practiced on Sunday after sitting out the Tulane game. With the likelihood of a new tackle starting beside him this week, Duckworth says that he's ready to take on an increased role to help out the offensive line.
Duckworth says he'll have to take on a more active role this week with a new tackle beside him.
Defensively the Tigers played without starting safety Aairon Savage because of a stinger suffered against Florida. The redshirt freshman practiced on Sunday and coordinator Will Muschamp says he expects him to play against Ole Miss. Two players that missed Sunday's practice were linebackers Tray Blackmon (hip flexor, tonsillitis) and Kevin Sears (hamstring). Although earlier Coach Tommy Tuberville said both would be doubtful this weekend, Muschamp says after having a chance to see them he believes both will be back.
"From the rotation standpoint we're expecting both of those kids to play this week," Muschamp says. "They were just out today. Tray was sick and Kevin had his hamstring. We expect both of those kids to play."
Having both of those players on the field this week is important for a defense that once again struggled to slow down a spread offense. This time it was Tulane that did the damage to Auburn with a big day running and throwing the ball. The Tigers will face another spread this weekend against Ole Miss and Tuberville says the defense has to improve in all areas before Saturday.
"Our linebackers missed five tackles," Tuberville says. "At times we were over running the ball. I think our speed hurts us at times. We've got to find a way to slow some guys down and get them squared up on the running backs and receivers. We've got to do a better job in coverage. We don't run that many but that's the first time somebody kept getting the ball down the field on us. It was good experience for us."
Auburn will take Monday off before returning to work on Tuesday morning. Kickoff for Saturday's game against Ole Miss is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and can be seen on Lincoln Financial Sports stations.