Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Notes from Tuesday's practice

A bit of news before we get to notes from the practice.

ROLLISON OUT TUESDAY: True freshman quarterback Tyrik Rollison, currently competing for the backup quarterback job, missed practice Tuesday with the flu, Auburn coach Gene Chizik said.

“…There’s the flu and things going around,” Chizik said. “We’re trying everything we can do to keep it spreading to our team. He’s just got a little bit of that. He’s fine. He’ll be fine. He’s got a touch of that.”

The Opelika-Auburn News reported that 414 students were out sick from Auburn city school and 340 students were out sick from Opelika city schools. The paper also reported that Auburn University has seen approximately 50 potential flu cases.

Now on to practice...

For the only time since A-Day, the media had a window -- albeit a small one -- to watch team drills during Tuesday's practice.

Here were my notes from the session:

  • QB Chris Todd completed every pass he threw during the practice’s early 11-on-11 session. DE Antonio Coleman sacked him once, but Todd looked sharp with his throws.
  • Kodi Burns worked at receiver with the first-team offense and, on one play, flashed into the backfield for a lateral option. That would have left Burns eligible to throw.
  • TE Gabe McKenzie, who missed all spring while dealing with medical issues, played with the first-team offense on Tuesday.
  • Coleman worked at least one play from a standing position. He sacked Todd from the upright stance.
  • DL Nick Fairley and Antoine Carter rotated at the strong-side defensive end. DE Michael Goggans worked with the second-team defense.
  • LBs Eltoro Freeman and Adam Herring were both back out in full pads during Tuesday’s practice. However, with both players still recovering from injuries, walk-on LB Wade Christopher took the first-team reps at weak-side linebacker.
  • Freeman was not wearing a cast on his right hand/wrist on Tuesday.
  • In addition to Freeman and Herring, WR Terrell Zachery also returned to practice on Tuesday.
  • QB Neil Caudle attempted one pass during the early team session. The pass was high and slipped through a WR Travante Stallworth’s hands, allowing CB Harry Adams to intercept it.
  • G Byron Isom, who missed a few practices last week with an undisclosed injury, was back in full pads, but freshman OL John Sullen worked at right guard.
  • Anthony Gulley, Montez Billings, Mario Fannin, Philip Pierre-Louis and Quindarius Carr appear to be the final five in the punt return competition. Gulley, in particular, made a nice move to evade gunners on one return.
  • Tight end Robert Cooper, linebackers Jonathan Evans and Spencer Pybus and offensive linemen Darrell Roseman and A.J. Greene were Tuesday’s early Muscle Beach combatants.
  • QB Tyrik Rollison was another noticeable absence. He was not at Muscle Beach. We’ll be sure to ask Auburn coach Gene Chizik about it later.
  • RB Eric Smith was also not at practice.
  • OL Rudy Odom is no longer on the team roster.
  • Message board rumors on Monday indicated that RBs coach Curtis Luper and executive associate athletics director Tim Jackson had some type of falling out. After the stretching period, Luper made his way over to the Jackson, who was watching from the sidelines. The two greeted each other enthusiastically with an attention-grabbing handshake and backslaps.
  • If Auburn has a curfew, it would be a surprise to at least one senior. “I don’t think we do,” he said.
  • With the Tigers needing depth, T'Sharvan Bell is now working at both cornerback and safety.
More notes:

When Auburn reported to practice in August, Wade Christopher knew the team didn’t have much depth.

Of the Tigers’ seven scholarship linebackers, five have missed at least a portion of preseason camp, including projected weak-side starter Freeman.

With defensive coordinator Ted Roof looking for help, he turned to Christopher, a sophomore walk-on.

“I’m just happy to help the defense any way I can,” Christopher said. “Obviously you don’t want guys going down in front of you but that’s the point of having depth. You have to have guys behind you stepping up. I feel like it’s my job to get in there and help this defense any way I can. I’m glad to be apart of this linebacking corps and I’ll do whatever Ted Roof needs me to do.”

STILL UNCLEAR: Chizik said Tuesday that WR Montez Billings’ status remains up in the air with nine days remaining until the season opener.

Billings sat out spring with an unspecified academic issue, but has practiced with the team during the preseason.

“Don’t really know exactly where we are with that, but obviously we’re going to be paying close attention to that in the next few days,” Chizik said.

Chizik also said it’s not his decision when Billings plays.

At SEC Media Days, Chizik said Billings would play during the 2009 season, but he didn’t know when.

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