Part 2, Auburn Wednesday Football Notes

Zach Clayton

Detailed notes and quotes from Auburn's Wednesday preseason football practice are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--More notes from Wednesday's first practice are featured. The Tigers worked out on the artificial turf practice field instead of the intramural fields, which were soaked from all night rains.

*Ryan Shoemaker launched a monster punt in practice today, a 60-yarder with good hang time. He is responding to the challenge from Clinton Durst.

*Freshman cornerback Harry Adams got some action returning punts, but was wearing a non-contact jersey as he continues to recovery from bruised lungs suffered in Sunday's practice.

*Chris Slaughter showed his good hands catching punts and on several nice catches in the one-on-one drills as well as the 11 on 11. He got behind cornerback D'Antoine Hood and the freshman grabbed Slaughter's hip to slow him down enough for the pass to sail too deep.

*Sophomore offensive tackle and center Ryan Pugh had a strong performance in the one-on-ones for the linemen.

*Senior center Jason Bosley, who returned to practice on Tuesday, missed practices with a back problem. He notes that he feels significantly better than he did last week and is upbeat about the offensive line group, which he predicts will be stronger than the 2007 offensive line.

*Sophomore end Antoine Carter continues to be a hot performer on the defensive front looking quick and aggressive in one-on-ones and in the 11 on 11 sessions.

*Robert Dunn had a good practice on Wednesday morning, including an acrobatic catch in the end zone during one-on-ones vs. freshman cornerback Drew Cole, who had good coverage. However, Dunn got the football and a toe in-bounds. The senior also caught a bullet pass over the middle with his finger tips that was thrown too far in front of him by Kodi Burns.

*Freshman tailback Eric Smith made several good catches on short passes and got up field quickly with the football under his arm.

*Defensive tackle Zach Clayton drew praise from position coach Don Dunn on Wednesday. Dunn says Clayton is probably the fourth-best pass rusher up front right now, including the defensive ends. The other pass rushing standouts of preseason have been Antonio Coleman, Antoine Carter and Sen'Derrick Marks. Dunn adds that Clayton is one of his top five interior defensive linemen in a group that includes Marks, Mike Blanc, Jake Ricks and Tez Doolittle. He notes that right now he's not sure how they shake out in the pecking order other than Marks being penciled in as a starter at tackle.

Tray Blackmon

*Linebacker Tray Blackmon is one of the players called upon to take on a leadership role for the Tigers this season and so far that has been the case. Dunn says the linebackers set the tone for a good practice on Wednesday morning with their leadership. That's something Blackmon said he's had to work on, but now it's becoming second nature for him. It doesn't hurt that Auburn has three senior linebackers to lead as well in Chris Evans, Merrill Johnson and Courtney Harden.

*Safety Zac Etheridge has been one of the top defenders for the Tigers in the preseason as he has become not only a leader in the secondary, but also the defense despite being just a sophomore. Etheridge says with so many young guys in the back of the defense he and Jerraud Powers and Walter McFadden have all become more vocal in showing what they expect from the defense and also about answering questions.

*Auburn executed well in a two-minute full squad drill to end Wednesday's practice. Both quarterbacks (Kodi Burns and Chris Todd) ran the ball well and should be able to put pressure on a defense because of that. Thought of as strictly a pocket passer, Todd's running ability is better than advertised. While not nearly as elusive as Burns, Todd can move the chains when necessary.

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