War Eagle Extra

Last man standing? Auburn’s backfield decimated with injuries

Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson runs the wildcat against Vanderbilt Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson runs the wildcat against Vanderbilt Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn walked into Sanford Stadium Saturday night shorthanded at running back.

The Tigers headed back to the Plains in even worse shape.

“At this point it’s week-to-week, day-to-day knowing who we have,” Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said Sunday night.

Many of the additions to Auburn’s injury report following the taxing 13-7 loss to Georgia came from the team’s backfield.

“Kerryon, you can see is out there on one leg,” Lashlee said. “Stanton Truitt got hurt early, Chandler (Cox) got banged up in the game.”

The injuries leave Auburn’s depth at the position dangerously thin with two weeks left in the regular season.

“It will be all hands on deck,” Lashlee said.

Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway missed the game with a leg injury. He traveled with the team to Athens, but didn’t dress for the game. Lashlee said the most likely scenario is the SEC’s leading rusher sitting out a second straight week.

“He hasn’t been ruled out,” Lashlee said. “We will have to see how he goes day-to-day. He’s making good strides. I really don’t know. Is it probably more likely that he is out? Yeah, but it’s also not ruled out.”

The only running back Lashlee gave a clean bill of health is Kam Martin, who might be an integral part of Auburn’s game plan against Alabama A&M this weekend.

Johnson (ankle), Truitt (ankle) and Cox (undisclosed) will be evaluated throughout the week to determine if they are healthy enough to play.

“We're optimistic with all those guys,” Lashlee said. “It's just going to take 24-48 hours to see how swelling goes. Everybody heals differently. We're optimistic but we probably won't know more until Tuesday or Wednesday when we can get them on the field, move them around and see really what their status is.”

Lashlee pegged Truitt for an increased role in the offense against Georgia, but the third-year sophomore injured his ankle on the team’s second possession.

“He actually carried the ball once or twice and just stiffened up as the game went on,” Lashlee said. “He's OK today. It's not a long-term, critical thing, we think. We're optimistic.”

Johnson continues to deal with the ankle injury he suffered on Oct. 8 against Mississippi State. While running back insists Saturday was the best he felt in weeks, he’s been limited in practice for more than a month.

“He didn't do a whole lot last week, now,” Lashlee said. “That was the plan, to get guys like him and Sean to the game.”

Auburn is so desperate for bodies Lashlee indicated coach Gus Malzahn might consider using safety Rudy Ford at running back.

“That's something that I know coach will probably think about and look at,” Malzahn said.

The other emergency option could be Malik Miller, who is rehabbing a torn MCL. Miller hasn’t practiced, but he’s advancing to the point where he could test out his knee this week.

“I think Malik Miller is getting healthier so that’s a possibility maybe,” Lashlee said. “We’ll see where Stanton and Chandler are at. I don’t think KJ is any worse. Will he be 100 percent? Probably not. And we’ll just see where Kam (Pettway) is at.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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