AUBURN, Ala. Jaylon Denson's season is likely over.
Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee wouldn't go into details Sunday night, but said he didn't expect the junior wide receiver to take the field again in 2013.
"That's a big loss for us," Lashlee said following Sunday's practice. "He's a guy that's really been the leader for us, plays a lot of snaps, does a lot of things that maybe people don't see."
On the opening drive of Saturday's game, Nick Marshall threw a pass in Denson's direction in the right flat; when the junior wideout reached back to make a play on the ball, he slipped and went down hard while clutching his knee. He eventually had to be carted off the field. According to a report on AuburnSports.com, the Hoover, Ala., native suffered a torn patellar tendon in his left knee.
At the time of Saturday's injury, Denson had three catches for 45 yards this season.
While disappointed to lose an experienced member of the receiving corps, Lashlee said it will give others an opportunity to fill the void.
The offensive coordinator nominated two candidates: the freshmen duo of Marcus Davis and Tony Stevens.
"He missed a lot of time in camp, but we've been bringing him along, and he had more of an involvement in the game plan and he had a couple of catches," Lashlee said of Stevens. "That's going to increase. Now we've got two weeks to really get him more reps, and we really think he's going to be in the rotation. He and Marcus Davis are two guys that we feel like can help us now, and I expect bigger things from Tony moving forward."
Fellow freshman receiver Dominic Walker doesn't fit into the plans yet, but Lashlee said that could change at a moment's notice.
"You're one or two more injuries away from being even thinner," he said. "You know, you've got Melvin Ray, he's going to step up. I thought Brandon Fulse did a good job the other night, and we've got some other guys we can mix and match. The bottom line is I feel good about the guys we're going with right now."
Sitting out the last two games hasn't changed Chris Davis' condition. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said Sunday that the senior cornerback is still "day-to-day." The coach noted that many of the team's injuries this season haven't been serious, mostly "ankles and strains and stuff like that."
Davis, who suffered a foot injury in the win against Arkansas State, fits into that category.
"Its not a broken bone or a surgery," Johnson said. "Its just how quick does he come back off a rehab. Im going to be optimistic and certainly say were going to have him for that next ballgame.Whether hell get to work much this week, I dont know."
Brandon King's career-best game on Saturday was aided by nagging ailments to starting "Star" Robenson Therezie. Johnson said Therezie "had a neck stinger" that bothered him multiple times during the course of the game.
King, a junior college transfer, took advantage of the opportunity, collecting his first three tackles (one solo, two assisted) since joining the Tigers this summer.
"Brandon came in and did a pretty good job for his first time with a lot of reps in a big-time college game," Johnson said. "Thats certainly going to help him down the road. (He) made a couple of mistakes and had a busted alignment, but that experience hopefully will help him."
Johnson had no update on defensive end Craig Sanders' status. ESPN's College GameDay reported he suffered an off-field injury last week. The senior did not travel with the team to LSU on Saturday.
"Dont know anything about Craig," Johnson said. "Im not sure how his (injury) is coming along."
Johnson: Defensive line 'just got whipped'
Auburn's defense threw multiple looks at LSU on Saturday. One was a five-lineman front, which adds one more player on the line than its base four-man formation. The five-lineman look was used on the first touchdown of the game, when LSU's Jeremy Hill scored on a 49-yard run.
When asked whether he regretted the move, Johnson made no excuses for the play of his unit.
"They just got whipped," he said. "We got cutoff on the backside and the back made a great cut. We had for missed tackles on one play. It didnt matter who you had on the field."
Johnson went on to explain what gave him the idea of adding another down lineman.
"The base 4-2-5 was OK with (LSU's running game) on normal downs, but your base would be conceding short yardage if we didnt get that extra body out there," he said. "And its a package we worked quite a bit, but our offense doesnt run anything like that, so we really havent run it against good people."