Sunday Football Notes 3: Clayton Progressing

Additional news, notes, quotes and photos from Sunday's Auburn football practice are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Zach Clayton looks like a defensive lineman who is on the verge into stepping into a larger role than he had last season for the Auburn football team.

The redshirt sophomore has shown no ill effects from missing a couple of practices last week after getting accidentally poked in the eye. On Sunday, he was impressive in one-on-one drills vs. the offensive linemen, no matter who was trying to block him.

"Zach is doing really well," AU defensive line coach Don Dunn tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I am real pleased with him. He had a great day today, especially in pass rush. He is getting better and better.

"Zach is young and he just needs to keep working," Dunn adds. "He has improved his hands a lot--fitting his hands, getting his hands on people."

Clayton, helped the Auburn track and field team this past season throwing the discus, agrees with Dunn that he has improved. "I feel like I am getting a lot better with my hands, which is one of the things I tried to focus on in after the bowl game and in the spring."

The Tigers wrapped up Sunday evening's practice with 11 on 11 work in full pads and the defense held the upper hand after the offense won more battles in the scrimmage a day earlier. "We were a lot better today than yesterday," says Clayton. "We kept our intensity up and flew to the ball."

In other news and notes from Sunday's practice:

*Clayton got ill earlier this month and dropped seven pounds, but has regained that weight and is back to 290 pounds.

AU's first-year defensive coordinator, Paul Rhoads, prepares to park his bike prior to Sunday's practice at the Auburn Intramural Fields.

*Running backs coach Eddie Gran says that senior Brad Lester is having a "great preseason" and notes that junior Ben Tate is a running back who is doing very well, too. Throw in freshman Eric Smith, who has received plenty of praise from Gran throughout the preseason, and senior Tristan Davis, who is bouncing back from his foot injury, and the Tigers look to be in good shape at the running back position.

*Sophomore Chris Slaughter continues to show major improvement over his play last season and this past spring. He made an impressive catch in the end zone on a long pass from Kodi Burns. In the 11 on 11 work, Burns scooped up a low snap from Tyronne Green like a shortstop making a routine play on a ground ball.

*The Tigers worked on kickoff coverage at Sunday's practice, an area that special teams coach Eddie Gran vows will be improved over 2007.

*Walk-on Brent Poole, a true freshman from Charles Henderson High in Troy, gives the Tigers a fifth quarterback that enables the team to better run offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's drills that feature five footballs in the air to five receivers at the same time. Poole has shown he has a good arm in his first week as a college player.

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