Auburn, Ala.--Along with senior defensive end Quentin Groves, Josh Thompson is one of the most experienced players on the Auburn defense this season. That hasn't kept him from working hard to improve his game in the preseason though as he has strived to become a complete player for the Tigers in 2007.
Saying that he spent a lot of time working on his pass rush moves in the offseason, Thompson said that he's still got plenty of room to improve before his time is done in orange and blue.
"I have been trying to improve pass rush and just staying in a lot better shape and mental things too," Thompson said. "I know a lot of things last year that I could have done different that would have helped me out a lot. I have been going over those things just trying to get better mentally as well as physically."
Last week the Tigers spent several practices working on alignment and just the basics to get ready for the season opener against Kansas State. Things such as getting calls from the sidelines and substitutions might seem like they are designed more for the younger players but Thompson said it's a really big practice for everyone no matter how much they've played before.
"It's important," Thompson said. "I'm still learning stuff. I've got to concentrate on different stuff and pay attention to substitutions and alignments and all that stuff. It's a good practice for the older guys as well as the younger guys."
Joining Thompson and Groves up front in the starting lineup will be Pat Sims and Sen'Derrick Marks, two players that saw a great deal of action last season for the Tigers. Thompson said that the chemistry between those guys is something that should help them take a step forward this season on the field.
"It's developing more and more each day," Thompson said. "Pat is doing a good job and we play off each other and talk to each other. Me and Quentin and Sen'Derrick played a lot last year together. We've got good chemistry all the way down the line on the front four."
Completely healthy now after suffering the normal bumps and bruises of preseason camp, Thompson said he's hoping to make it through the season healthy as well. Banged up for part of each of his seasons on the Plains, Thompson will be a big key for the Auburn defense in the middle in his senior year.
In the second year under the direction of Will Muschamp, Auburn's defense is expected to be one of the best in the Southeastern Conference and the entire country this season after finishing in the Top 10 last year in scoring defense. While they still have plenty of work to do to get to the level they're shooting for, Thompson said right now he feels good about the defense heading into game week.
"I think we're looking pretty good," Thompson said. "You don't want to say you're looking real good because there's always things we can work on. Right now we're in good shape. We're a little banged up in some spots but we're running to the ball and all getting our assignments down. That's what counts right now."