Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson practiced in limited capacity ahead of SEC Championship Game

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn football star running back Kerryon Johnson was able to practice this week, but Gus Malzahn is still referring to his injured shoulder as a “day-to-day” issue ahead of the SEC Championship Game.

“He’s done some things in practice this week,” Malzahn said Thursday on his weekly Tiger Talk radio show appearance. “It’ll probably be… we said to day-to-day. It could be a game-time decision of his status.”

Johnson suffered a shoulder injury in the second half of Auburn’s 26-14 win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl last weekend. The junior running back from Huntsville, Ala., had surgery on his shoulder earlier in his career.

Johnson has 250 carries for 1,276 yards and 17 touchdowns this season — all of which ranked second in the SEC behind Kentucky’s Benny Snell Jr. He also added a pair of receiving touchdown and a passing touchdown in the regular season.

“The level he’s playing at is really unbelievable,” Malzahn said. “He plays his best ball in the biggest moments, the biggest games. He’s one of our leaders, too. He’s going to do everything he can to be out there.”

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The junior has been one of the Tigers’ biggest leaders this season, coming back from an early-season hamstring injury to become one of the most effective running backs in the country.

“When we recruited him, we felt like he had a chance to be a special player [on] just his ability alone,” Malzahn said. “But then when you add the type of person he is, the type of competitor he is… he loves to practice, he loves to compete. He’s like a coach. You could make adjustments with him on any play, and he usually already has an idea of what we should do, anyway. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

While Johnson has been able to practice in a limited basis this week, the Tigers have given more work to reserve running backs Kam Martin, Malik Miller and Devan Barrett. Junior running back Kamryn Pettway will remain out with a broken bone in his shoulder.

“They’ve had a very good week of practice,” Malzahn said. “You can tell they’re excited. They’ve got quite a few reps, probably the last five weeks of practice, because we want to rest KJ with the carries he got in the game. Really, I think they are in a good position to come in and be able to execute.”

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