War Eagle Extra

Auburn does final prep for Sugar Bowl at Saints’ facility

Auburn kept strict watch of the time as reporters watched from the sidelines Saturday afternoon at the New Orleans Saints’ indoor practice facility.

The forecast forced the coaching staff to move the practice from Tulane Yulman Stadium, an outdoor venue built in 2014, to the Saints’ facility in Metairie.

Reporters were allowed to watch the opening 15 minutes of the Tigers’ final practice for the Sugar Bowl.

Auburn mostly stuck to special teams work as it did when reporters were in attendance Thursday.

The Tigers ran a pace drill featuring the first team offense against the scout team earlier in the week but didn’t show anything as substantial in the second viewing window.

Offensive line coach Herb Hand ran drills with his group on one side of the field, while defensive line coach Rodney Garner did the smae in the opposite end zone.

The quarterbacks — Sean White included — did some light throwing as the bulk of the team ran through punt returns, onside kicks and kick returns.

Quick hits

▪  Auburn defensive back Joshua Holsey had his ankle heavily taped. Holsey missed the Iron Bowl with an ankle injury, but the defender said there was nothing that would keep him out of the game when he met with reporters on Friday.

“I’m going to go out there and smile each and every play, and I’m going to play my best like I do each and every Saturday,” Holsey said. “I’ve never gotten the opportunity to play in a bowl game before, unfortunately, but I have that chance now and I’m going to take advantage of it.”

▪  A handful of injured players, including defensive back Jamel Dean, defensive back Jayvaughn Myers and defensive lineman Jaunta’vius Johnson ran along the back end zone. Dean, who has battled multiple major knee injuries, sported a thick brace on his left leg. The defender is expected back for spring practice.

▪  Auburn offensive lineman Robert Leff worked reps at left tackle. The offensive lineman has anchored the right side of the line this season alongside Braden Smith. Leff earned praise from his teammates earlier in the day for how much he’s improved since last season.

“Robert really stepped up this season,” offensive lineman Alex Kozan said. “Seeing him have the success that he had is a testament to his hard work. Not many guys can redshirt and sit on the bench and play just a couple of plays for three years and then come out and still fight and stick around for his senior year. Robert was able to do that. Thankfully he’s on our team.”

▪  Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs, ESPN announcer Brent Musburger and 2016 offensive lineman signee Brodarious Hamm were all in attendance Saturday. Hamm, who was diagnosed with cancer in March, kept a watchful eye on the offensive lineman next to Hand. He enrolled in classes over the summer with the hope of rejoining the team next season.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

Related stories from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer