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August 21, 2010

Scrimmage focuses on younger players


Two weeks before Auburn's 2010 season kicks off, the Tigers held a half-practice, half-scrimmage in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

Coach Gene Chizik said the Tigers worked in a lot of full-field special teams throughout the day. The scrimmage portion mainly focused on the younger players.

"Just trying to make some final decisions on who we think can help and who can't," Chizik said.

The players who jumped out at Chizik Saturday were freshman safety Demetruce McNeal and linebacker Harris Gaston. On offense, Chizik said freshman running back Ladarious Phillips carried the ball well, being used primarily in third-and-short situations.

Coming off a severe neck injury, senior safety Zac Etheridge returned to full contact for the first time since suffering a season-ending injury in '09.

The last time Etherdige played inside Jordan-Hare, he was being carted off the field on a back board after he cracked a vertebrae and tore ligaments in his neck.

"I was talking to Aairon Savage walking off the field," Etheridge said. "And I was like, 'Last time I came out here and played I didn't walk off the field.' I was just blessed to be able to walk off the field after a scrimmage in the stadium again."

Although it was initially thought that the punt returners would go live, Chizik said there was a change in plans. The returners caught punts, but it wasn't live situations.

The rotation of punt returners included Quindarius Carr, Darvin Adams and Trovon Reed, in that order.



Quick-hitters




*** Reed was working with the first team wide receivers, and also received reps at the "Wildcat" position.

*** Reed said Darvin Adams and Kodi Burns continue to provide leadership and motivation for the rest of the wide receivers.

"When they make a big play, we all feel like we've got to make a big play," Reed said. "Kodi will go out and make wild play, and that'll get out offense going. But when they're not doing it, our offense isn't doing it. We look at those guys as our leaders."

*** All four of the quarterbacks rotated today. Cameron Newton is cemented in as the starter, but Barrett Trotter, Neil Caudle and Clint Moseley are still battling for the back-up spot. Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Gus Malzahn said he was "real close" to naming a No. 2.

*** Jake Holland is still in the process of learning the middle linebacker position at Auburn, but is getting more comfortable with the calls and speed of the game. He said Saturday he felt he played "a lot faster". Holland said the back-up spot behind starter Josh Bynes remains open and teh competition includes himself, Harris Gaston and Wade Christopher.

*** Linebacker LaDarius Owens said he doesn't know if he will play this season, but is working to be ready in case he does.

*** After Saturday's practice, Owens said he felt that he is playing with more leverage and is more physical with the offensive linemen.

*** Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker said although the final decision is up to Chizk, as of right now, Rocker doesn't see any of the defensive linemen redshirting this season.

*** As John Sullen has a hurt right shoulder, Roszell Gayden is working to provide depth and Brandon Mosley is still learning the position, it appears that A.J. Greene could be the front-runner for the starting right tackle job.

*** The Tigers will return to the practice fields Sunday for a 6:40 p.m. practice.



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