Auburn Football, Outback Bowl Injury Updates: Duke Williams, Carl Lawson


The Auburn football team will face Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl on January 1, and they may be short-handed at the wide receiver position. Head coach Gus Malzahn met with the media Friday to discuss several topics, including the status of D’haquille Williams, the team’s leading receiver.

“He has not practiced,” Malzahn said. “He was sick and he’s got some treatment things to do from the last game.”

The junior wideout is also still recovering from a sprained MCL he suffered earlier this season in the game against Texas A&M. Williams missed two games with the knee injury, but played well against Alabama last month.

Oct 11, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Auburn Tigers wide receiver D’haquille Williams (1) pulls in a pass over Mississippi State Bulldogs linebacker Matthew Wells (22) during the first quarter at Davis Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The 6-foot-2, 216-pound playmaker had seven catches for 121 yards against the Crimson Tide, including a very acrobatic grab that resulted in an awkward landing for his heavily braced leg. The performance boosted his team-highs to 45 receptions, 730 yards and five touchdowns.

Given the status of the leg and his illness, Williams should probably be listed as ‘questionable’ to play against Wisconsin.

If he plays in Tampa, it could be the last time Auburn football fans see the man they call “Duuuuuuuuuke” in orange and blue. Williams is currently weighing his option to declare early for the NFL Draft, and is widely considered to be a candidate to be selected in the first two rounds. Malzahn said Friday that Williams will continue to receive treatment for his ailment.

The head coach also updated reporters on the status of sophomore defensive end Carl Lawson.

“It’s great to see him out there in pads and the helmet,” Malzahn said. “It’s great to see what he can do. It’s great to have his presence out there and his leadership.”

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The Tigers have sorely missed Lawson’s pass rushing abilities this season, and have registered just 20 sacks while the 6-foot-2, 261-pound lineman has be out recovering from a torn ACL. Lawson has now practiced with the team for the first time all season, but will not play in the Outback Bowl, according to Malzahn.

“Anytime you have an injury it’s going to be a process,” Malzahn said. “Right now he’s ahead of schedule and looks really good doing the non-contact drills that he’s doing. When we get spring, he’ll be back to normal, we feel like. He’s worked extremely hard to get back.”

Even if he were healthy and fully recovered, holding Lawson out of the bowl game is a smart move for Auburn.

The high-motor defensive end registered 7.5 tackles for loss and four sacks as a true freshman in 2013, which means he has a redshirt season available. By staying on the sidelines January 1, Lawson will save a year of eligibility and be considered a sophomore again in 2015.

Auburn Football Injury Report

WR Duke Williams – Questionable (Knee/Illness)

DE DaVonte Lambert – OUT (Knee)

DT Jeff Whitaker – OUT (Nerve)

DE Carl Lawson – OUT (Knee)

WR Stanton Truitt – OUT (Torn Labrum)

OL Jordan Diamond – OUT (Unspecified Surgery)

OL Alex Kozan – OUT (Back)

FB Gage Batten – OUT

FB Patrick Young – OUT (Knee)

Next: What Auburn Bowl Records Could Be Broken?

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