Bayou Bengal Briefing: Is LSU linebacker Arden Key almost ready to return?

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It’s an Arden Key day

As we often do in the Bayou Bengal Briefing, let’s talk about LSU’s preseason All-America linebacker Arden Key.

In his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Key still hasn’t been cleared for contact, ruling him out for LSU’s game against Chattanooga this weekend. But then came the media viewing portion of LSU practice later in the afternoon. Where I saw this:

That’s contact if you ask me. And it’s also Key wearing shoulder pads, which is a first from the practices the media has been able to see this season.

Naturally, most people expect to see Key back Week 3 when LSU opens SEC play against Mississippi State. But if there’s a chance he’s ready now, should LSU wait to bring him back?

I see both sides of this argument. On the one side, you don’t want to rush Key back before he’s ready, especially against a lower-level opponent such as Chattanooga. Oppositely, you don’t want Key to be out of shape and unprepared for action in a more important game such as the one against Mississippi State.

If LSU has the option to ease Key into a low-risk game, I’d argue that’d be a wise decision. If Key isn’t ready yet, don’t play him. Don’t take risks on players this valuable with futures that can be lucrative. But if he is ready, holding him out one more week doesn’t really do much.

It’s a fun debate to have. If you have opinions on the matter, go ahead and continue the discussion in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter @nicksuss.

Polls, polls, polls

Three major polls came out Tuesday following Week 1 of the college football season: The AP Top 25, the Amway Coaches Poll and the FWAA Super 16.

Here’s how LSU fared in each of the polls:

Now for a fourth poll

We here at SEC Country released our first 2017 edition of the SEC Country Power Poll on Tuesday night, ranking the 14 teams in the SEC from best to worst. In the Tuesday edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing, I revealed my votes. Here are the rankings as voted upon by the SEC Country staff:

  1. Alabama
  2. Auburn
  3. LSU
  4. Georgia
  5. South Carolina
  6. Tennessee
  7. Arkansas
  8. Florida
  9. Mississippi State
  10. Kentucky
  11. Texas A&M
  12. Ole Miss
  13. Vanderbilt
  14. Missouri

Wide receiver Wednesday

It’s Wednesday. On Wednesdays I like to talk about wide receivers. So, let’s talk about D.J. Chark.

I spoke to Chark on Tuesday about his new role as a punt returner. He said it’s something he’s always done and he feels comfortable doing, but he doesn’t know how long he’ll stick with it before being overtaken by another LSU return man. Orgeron didn’t have much additional information about this, saying he expects Donte Jackson to compete with Chark, but he’ll need Jackson to secure the ball better to fully trust him in the role.

I also asked Chark if playing felt different with No. 7 on his chest instead of No. 82. He laughed and joked that one of his broken tackles on his longest punt return wasn’t him. It was the spirit of Leonard Fournette embodying his old number.

Naturally, I asked him about the last LSU No. 7 who thrived as LSU’s punt returner. You know, this guy:

Chark laughed off the comparison. He doesn’t want to have that sort of pressure on him. But if Fournette can embody his old jersey, there’s nothing stopping Mathieu from jumping in from time to time. Why not, right?

That’s, like, a lot

Thirty-seven former LSU football players made NFL rosters or practice squads this week, down from 46 a year ago. This includes a huge number of rookies. First-round selections Fournette, Jamal Adams and Tre’Davious White are obvious ones. But later picks such as Ethan Pocic, Duke Riley, Kendell Beckwith and Davon Godchaux made teams, as did undrafted rookies Lewis Neal, Tashawn Bower, Travin Dural and former LSU track star Cyril Grayson.

One surprisingly unemployed player is seventh-round pick Malachi Dupre. Dupre left LSU a year early to declare for the NFL, then slid down draft boards and ultimately was released by the Green Bay Packers, the team that selected him.

Elsewhere on SEC Country

In case you missed them, here are some stories and posts we here at SEC Country ran Tuesday:

Today in made-up holidays

According to the folks at, Wednesday is “ National Read A Book Day.” So, Wednesday, in addition to reading the Bayou Bengal Briefing, why not crack open an old paperback and give your favorite book a glance?

I have two books I’m juggling right now. One is about former Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and the other is about the making of the classic baseball movie The Pride of the Yankees. I might read both of them Wednesday. Or I might try to read Lord of the Rings for the fifth time. I keep getting sidetracked by football.

Because I love books. But football is better. Right?

Miss a previous edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing? Find every one of SEC Country’s daily LSU football columns  right here.

The post Bayou Bengal Briefing: Is LSU linebacker Arden Key almost ready to return? appeared first on SEC Country.

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