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Coaches ‘very optimistic’ Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson will be ready for Arkansas

Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson warms up before facing LSU on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson warms up before facing LSU on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee didn’t hesitate outlining his number one goal for the offense during the bye week.

“First and foremost is to get healthy and rested,” Lashlee said. “We've had a long, hard six weeks.”

The list of walking wounded includes Kerryon Johnson (ankle), Kamryn Pettway (quad), Xavier Dampeer (leg), Marcus Davis (various) and a number of other players who are “banged and bruised.”

Johnson injured his right ankle early in the first quarter Saturday.

While Pettway filled in admirably carrying the ball 39 times in the 38-14 win, Lashlee stressed the importance of getting Johnson back healthy for Auburn’s game on Oct. 22 against Arkansas.

“It’s very important cause he’s one of our best players,” Lashlee said.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn didn’t offer much of an update on Johnson’s status in his post-game press conference, but Lashlee sounded optimistic about Johnson’s status on Tuesday night.

“We are very optimistic, he’s doing well,” Lashlee said. “We’ll just kind of take it day-by-day right now. He’s progressing better than our trainers maybe thought after Saturday. It’s nothing major and serious, but we just hope he’ll continue to improve and get better.”

Johnson leads the team in rushing with 538 yards on 105 carries. The Madison Academy alum has also has nine catches for 67 yards, returned four kickoffs for 87 yards and remains the offense’s wildcat quarterback.

“He’s a dynamic guy,” Lashlee said.

If the injury doesn’t heal as expected Lashlee said Auburn rely on the same philosophy that’s powered the backfield in recent weeks.

“I think it shows next man up,” Lashlee said. “Bubba came in and played very well, Kam Martin got in there and did some good things even Stanton Truitt. Chandler Cox is a guy who can run it if needed.”

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