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Kerryon’s goal: ‘get back out there on the field’

November 29, 2017 GMT

AUBURN — According to his head coach, Kerryon Johnson doesn’t need to practice in order to start the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said Tuesday in his weekly news conference that the junior tailback was “day-to-day” with his shoulder injury but suggested that even without practicing this week, he’ll be allowed to play and start Saturday against Georgia (3 p.m., CBS) if given full medical clearance.

“There’s no doubt,” Malzahn said. “He’s not just a veteran guy, but he’s one of the better players in college football right now and he’s a great competitor and this is a big game. He’ll do what he can.”

Johnson said his only objective over the next few days is to get his injured shoulder medically cleared to play against Georgia.

In the championship game news teleconference Monday afternoon, he described his shoulder injury suffered in the Iron Bowl victory over Alabama last weekend as “just banged up” but with no other details to why he unable to finish the contest.

“Like I said before, it’s week whatever in the football season,” Johnson said, “I’m a running back. Guys are going to get banged up. It’s just nothing more, nothing less.”

Johnson joked Monday that he can currently feel the pain in his shoulder because “it didn’t fall off” and is continuing ice and therapy treatments with Auburn’s training staff in the hope of being active for the game Saturday against No. 6 Georgia (11-1).

“That’s just the main goal this week — do everything I can to get myself as ready as possible, get as close to 100 percent as one person can get this late in the season and get ready for that game next Saturday,” Johnson said. “So as soon as that game ended, that was my immediate thought process, and that’s what I’m working towards this week.”

Malzahn said Tuesday he didn’t want to get into any talk about a medical diagnosis of the injury but did add that he’ll speak with Auburn’s team orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews on the specifics of Johnson’s range of motion and physical limitations.

“I haven’t asked him yet,” Malzahn said. “I’ll probably ask him Wednesday and get back with you.”

Auburn sophomore tailback Kam Martin, who has 6.39 yards a carry this season, 409 total rushing yards and two touchdowns in a limited role, is practicing with the first-team offense this week and is seen as a having the speed for big plays on any singular rush but the unknown question is whether the 182-pound tailback can handle a 20-to-25 carry workload.