Tape It Up: Auburn: Floundering Five

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Auburn: Floundering Five

As Auburn continues its quest to reclaim some respect after a woeful start to the season, this week is a big one for the Tigers. No. 22 Auburn is traveling to Arkansas for a must-win SEC matchup, but the Tigers' bus will be missing as many as five starters due to varying degrees of injury. Linebacker Merrill Johnson, safety Aairon Savage and center Jason Bosley all missed practice on Tuesday, and linebacker Tray Blackmon and defensive end Quentin Groves were only at 50 percent, according to head coach Tommy Tuberville.

Johnson, who has been responsible for five tackles in two games this season, missed all of Tuesday's practice with a shoulder injury. Joining him on the sideline was Savage, who has 17 tackles through four games to go along with a nagging knee injury and Bosley, who was also sidelined with a knee problem. Bosley's knee is still swolen to the point of hampering his flexibility. He was able to walk a bit on Tuesday and hoped to be jogging by the end of the week, but he does not seem to be in anywhere near good enough shape to play on Saturday. Tuberville described him as "struggling."

Groves is dealing with dislocated toes, which have kept him from pushing off and are digging at the stength in his foot. The senior missed last week's game against Vanderbilt, but through five games he has 22 tackles, including six for a loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and an astounding 18 quarterback hurries. His status is uncertain for this week, which will be a huge loss for the Tigers.

With so many defensive players hurting, a good deal of young players are going to have to step up until the veterans are back on their feet. Tuberville said earlier this week that unless the players in pain can get a good number of full-speed reps in before Saturday, they will not start, but could see time in a few plays if the team's depth so requires (which all signs point to as being the case).

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