War Eagle Extra

Malzahn names Stephen Roberts starting punt returner

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn walks the sideline at the Saints' indoor practice facility outside with his team preparing for the Sugar Bowl Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn walks the sideline at the Saints' indoor practice facility outside with his team preparing for the Sugar Bowl Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016.

Auburn safety Stephen Roberts had one of the most memorable plays of the Iron Bowl with a 58-yard punt return inside Alabama’s red zone.

Roberts said the field opened up like the “Red Sea” to give his team some early momentum.

The junior might get a chance to put his stamp on the Sugar Bowl in similar fashion filling in for an injured Marcus Davis.

Coach Gus Malzahn provided a brief update on Davis’ status during a press conference Sunday in New Orleans.

Malzahn hoped the senior would be healthy enough to play in his final game, but the receiver hasn’t made enough progress during the program’s prep.

“He tried his best, but it doesn’t look promising right now,” Malzahn said.

Roberts, who also returned kicks during a short open viewing period at Saturday’s practice, will continue to handle the team’s punt return duties.

Malzahn previously said Roberts did a “super job” filling in for Davis. The Opelika native has five returns on the season for 98 yards (19.6 yards per return).

The first return of Roberts’ career came midway through the season against Arkansas. Roberts’ entered the game for Davis with Auburn leading 56-3. The bulk of Roberts’ work came in Auburn’s 55-0 win over Alabama A&M when he returned three kicks for 32 yards.

Davis is one of the few players expected to miss Monday night’s game.

Defensive lineman Devaroe Lawrence is out after having surgery on an undisclosed injury in early December, but outside the two seniors everyone is expected to be available.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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