Sims Shines, Cox Returns at AU Practice

Auburn, Ala.--The play of defensive tackle Pat Sims and the return of quarterback Brandon Cox were the highlights of the second session of Auburn's third day of preseason football practice on Saturday evening.

Cox, who had missed the first two days of practice recovering from flu-like symptoms, noted that he is 100 percent, but admitted he got tired toward the end of the session that was hot and muggy with little breeze. Early in practice the lefty quarterback was on target with his passes.

Don Dunn, who coaches the defensive tackles, wasn't ready to declare that Sims is over the hump, but noted that he liked what he saw on Saturday evening.

"Pat had a real good pass rush drill--that's for sure," Dunn said. "Like I have been telling him, he can be as good as he wants to be.

"He has just got to be consistent. He has to put this practice behind him and come out and have a better day tomorrow. His maturity seems to be coming around. He has to prove to his teammates, and us, that he can be a consistent guy and so far he has.

Pat Sims wins a one-on-one pass rush drill on Saturday.

"I think what he did at this practice is going to help him with his confidence," Dunn added. "He can see and his teammates can see how good he can be, but it is just one day although I am real happy now.

"I don't know how he did in the run drills because I have to watch the film, but in the pass drills he probably had his best day since he has been here," Dunn noted. "Can he saw the logs every day and stay healthy? That is the question."

With returning defensive tackle starter Sen'Derrick Marks moving out to end, Sims has a great opportunity to move into a starting role for the Tigers.

Sims said that he felt he like he had a good day. "It's a mental thing. You have to go out there, take it day by day, and work hard.

"Every year you get smarter, you get stronger, you get faster," he added. "You get more mature. Every day you are just learning to get better."

Commenting on the return of his starting quarterback, Tuberville said, "Brandon looked tired and he is a little rusty. He got tired about 3/4s of the way through. When you have been sick and then when you come out in this heat...but he pushed through it."

Commenting on the first practice that featured contact with the players in helmets, shorts and shoulder pads, Tuberville said it was "not a great start."

"We have got to do a lot more work," he said. "Tomorrow we will start working together as groups. We will have more rest between reps for some guys. We have about run out of gas for some guys. It is pretty hard when you have to go almost every rep, but we made through it. Now we will tee it up (Sunday) about 4:30 p.m. and extend practice about 45 minutes or an hour."

For the first three days of practice, the Tigers had separate sessions in the morning and evening. Most of the veteran players participated in the evening session.

With first team center Jason Bosley still recovering from a strained pectoral muscle he suffered while lifting weights last month, Mike Berry ran first team at center and was backed up by Leon Hart. There were exchange problems between Cox and the centers.

Cox said there was a reason for what happened. "Today is the first day with shoulder pads on and it is a little different with them getting hit when they snap it plus it is a little different working with Jason and then trying to go with Mike and then switch in with Leon so it just takes a few days to get used to it."

Brandon Cox takes a snap from Mike Berry.

In other news from Saturday's second practice:

*Tuberville has challenged backup quarterback Blake Field to step up and prove he deserves to be the No. 2 man behind Cox. "He needs to have a new attitude," he head coach said. "He needs to practice a lot better than he did in the spring...Last year he came out hot in two-a-days and kind of went south on us a little bit. I am hoping he sticks where he is going. He has really gotten better. He is practicing better. He is a little bit more focused. He knows the offense better and that always helps."

*The head coach had praise for the work of fifth-year senior tight end Cole Bennett, who is returning from an injury that knocked him out in game three last year. "You can tell he has an edge, a little chip on the shoulder wanting to prove that he has improved," Tuberville said. "He has been a good leader. He has always been a quiet guy. He will step up this year. He is doing a good job with (tight ends) Gabe (Gabe McKenzie) and Tommy Trott."

*Defensive back Zach Gilbert and defensive lineman Tez Doolittle missed the evening practice session to participate in graduation ceremonies.

*Former Tiger player and current student assistant coach Travaris Robinson also graduated on Saturday, but didn't take part in ceremonies so he could be at practice.

Mario Fannin catches a punt at Saturday evening's practice as receivers coach Greg knox watches

*Tailback Mario Fannin was flawless in handling punts on Saturday and Ryan Shoemaker won praise from the coaches for his punting. Freshman wide receiver Quindarius Carr also fielded punts.

*James Swinton, a junior wide receiver, got some work as a deep returner on the kickoff team along with tailback Ben Tate.

*The field goal kickers were flawless on kicks for 27 and 32 yards. Freshman Wes Byrum was wide right from 37 yards and Ross Gornall was wide left from 42 yards out. Zach Kutch and Graham Sutter were 4-4.

Saturday Morning Practice Report

Sophomore tight end cradles the football after making a catch.

*Tight end Trott had a good day catching the ball in the team drills near the end of practice.

2007 Auburn Football Guide

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