Blackmon Wants to Contribute ASAP

Linebacker Tray Blackmon discusses his start to the 2007 Auburn football season.

Auburn, Ala.--Tray Blackmon says it has been frustrating not being able to contribute the past two and half games since injuring his ankle on an interception return on the final play of the first half vs. Kansas State.

As the Tigers prepare for Saturday home game against a 2-1 New Mexico State team expected to pass nearly every down, the sophomore linebacker says he is getting treatments two or three times a day in an effort to get back to full speed and back on the field.

"I ice it (ankle), exercise it and just try to keep working out on it and not let it just sit," he says. "I try to jog, and cut and shuffle--game type movements I have to make. I feel like it is going to get better every day if I just keep doing what I am doing."

The linebacker's coaches say they want him back on the field as soon as possible, but note they don't want him back in action while he is still injured and risk further damage to the ankle.

Blackmon says he is trying to be supportive of his teammates as the Tigers look to bounce back from an unexpected 1-2 start. "It's hard to be sitting on the sideline watching--very hard," the middle linebacker says. "I want to be out there, but I haven't been cleared to play. You have to put your wants aside for the good of the team."

Blackmon also notes that the linebacker corps is missing another key player, junior Merrill Johnson, who injured his shoulder in game two and did not play vs. Mississippi State last Saturday. "I am looking forward to getting Merrill back out on the field," he says.

The sophomore says he expects to be "about 90" of full speed this week when the Tigers play the Aggies, but points out this is a game in which the defense will likely replace one or two of the linebackers with defensive backs to match up against Coach Hal Mumme's spread offense.

Blackmon predicts the Tigers will bounce back from their disappointing start. "We have a lot of talented athletes and playmakers, but the ball is just not bouncing our way right now," he says. "We just refuse to quit. We plan to continue to keep striving, keep working hard and having faith it will pay off and we will get a break soon."

Although he was obviously missed, the hard-hitting sophomore won't say the Tigers would have beaten South Florida and Mississippi State if he played. "I felt like I could have definitely contributed to the team and maybe made a difference in the outcome," says.

Kickoff for this week's New Mexico State at Auburn game is set for 6 p.m. The only TV coverage is pay per view. Fans can contact their local cable provider for details on how to order it. Direct TV and Dish Network will have the games available and C-band dish owners in the state of Alabama can call 1-800-TV-STARS to order the telecast.

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