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Notes from the Beat, 8/6

Phillip Pierre-Louis: DA RETURN

Yesterday represented Day 2 of Auburn’s fall football practice, and we got the usual round of reports from Andy Bitter, Jay Tate, Andrew Gribble, and Charles Goldberg.  Developments:

— I guess I just had to make the assumption yesterday that Deangelo Benton’s apparent hand injury wasn’t anything to legitimately freak out about, didn’t I? Because it may very well be something to freak out about, at least from Denton’s perspective; he’s now got a hard cast keeping the pinky and ring fingers on his right hand in place and his right arm in a sling. If it’s just broken fingers rather than his wrist–and it sounds like it is–it shouldn’t be too major an injury, but as I said in the position battles post, Benton already had a serious challenge ahead of him just to stay in the rotation with guys like Trovon Reed and Antonio Goodwin around. This is not going to help.

On the plus side, you know that after all the things he said last year, at least Trooper Taylor will be firmly in Benton’s corner. He’ll probably say something sympathetic about breaking the record for most receptions with a broken hand, or that Benton only has to

“Like I told him, it’s not personal, but we’re not going to wait around. They’re not going to cancel the season. He feels the pressure from me. You’ve got 10 fingers. How many do you need to catch a ball? Get ready to go. I don’t have time for the injuries. I have time to coach the guys that are in there.”

Well. That … that’s a change of pace. Get well soon, Deangelo. No, seriously: get well right now. The wide receiving unit’s too deep these days not to.

— There was some good news on the wide receiving injury front, though: Phillip Pierre-Louis has, rather stunningly, not only made it back onto the practice field after his spring ACL injury, but by all of yesterday’s accounts was moving at pretty much full speed despite his knee brace. I left Frenchy off of the position battles post because I didn’t see any way he’d be ready in time for this season–particularly when we’re talking about a guy who’s had a rough time staying out of the doghouse even when he’s been healthy.

But Taylor’s rather glowing comments make it clear Frenchy’s well and truly put the off-field stuff in the rearview, and hey, if he’s really 100 percent (or something approximating it), we can use a punt returner. I think actual contribution might still have to wait until 2011, but at least Frenchy’s in the mix again.

— Other things to earn Taylor’s seal of approval: Travante Stallworth’s heart, Shaun Kitchens’ leaping ability, Trovon Reed’s “want-to.” Good news, though Taylor didn’t offer any encouragement, apparently, about whether or not Stallworth would be healthy enough to earn playing time.

— Not surprisingly, Cam Newton is receiving the lion’s share of reps as the No. 1 quarterback. How nice is it not to have to wait breathlessly to find out which quarterbacks were taking what percentage of snaps? Very nice.

— Also on the quarterback front, we found out that Ryan White was promised his shot at quarterback during recruiting and is getting his shot at quarterback. There seems to be an understanding between both White and the coaches that this just a shot and that he’ll move to corner sooner rather than later, but White wanted the chance and the coaches wanted to give it to him, so it’s all good …

except for White’s chances of seeing time at corner this season. Those are less good. But if he’s OK with that, and the coaches are OK with that, I suppose I’m OK with that–we should have enough options at corner to get by.

— In other freshmen news, I think Tate is right based on that photo there–Eric Mack doesn’t look like the tub of goo his listed weight of 361 pounds makes him out to be. Ladarious Phillips, on the other hand, looks very much like his 290 in the Van Emst photo gallery. But Luper sounds like he’ll live with him at that weight, so  we all can, I guess.

— Speaking of Luper, he’s not happy having just three scholarship tailbacks and an emergency H-back at his disposal, and who can blame him? If everyone stays healthy, this will be one of the best backfields in the country, but if everyone doesn’t, it could get less-than-optimal in a hurry.

— I’d like to thank Tracy Rocker for backing up my assertion that Zach Clayton was an “obvious” choice for the first defensive tackle off the bench by calling him a “key cog” and saying it’s just a matter of Clayton staying off the injury list. If Fairley can just live up to his potential … and Blanc can get just a little stouter against the run … and Clayton stays in one piece … and either Whitaker or Carter or Lykes step it up … you know, this whole defensive tackle thing might work out after all.

— Rocker also let slip that Joel Bonomolo is “a workout maniac.” Good to have our assumptions confirmed.

— Speaking of working out, dude, if Eltoro Freeman doesn’t reclaim his starting spot, it’s not because he didn’t spend enough time in the weight room. (HT to commenter Marcus.)

— And lastly, Chizik more or less verified what we’d learned the day before: John Sullen has lost enough weight that he’s not stuck at guard any more, and he’ll be in the mix on the offensive line. Honestly, this whole Sullen thing just makes me want to track down Tubby and scream “You see what happens when you take chances on the smart kids?!?”

— Another edition tomorrow morning after tonight’s evening practice.

Photo by Van Emst.

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