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Auburn WR Sammie Coates seems likely to play vs. Kansas State

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Butch Dill/Associated Press
Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates could return to action on Thursday after missing time with a leg injury.

Auburn seems likely to have its top two wide receivers for Thursday night's game at Kansas State.

Sammie Coates missed the Tigers' most recent game against San Jose State with a leg injury, but offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee told reporters after practice Sunday that coaches are "still very optimistic he'll be ready to roll."

Coates, a junior, was expected to be one of the best receivers in the SEC; last season, he led the Tigers in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, and he was one of the most explosive players in the nation. Coates averaged 21.5 yards per reception, the most of any player nationally with at least 40 receptions. He had three catches covering at least 60 yards, seven receptions of at least 40 yards and 14 of at least 30 yards (tied for third-most nationally). He had seven TD receptions, and they averaged 54.1 yards per pop.

Coates (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) also is a phenomenal athlete; he has been clocked in the 4.3s in the 40-yard dash and has a vertical jump that has been measured at a staggering 44 inches.

But Coates was a forgotten man of sorts in the season-opening win over Arkansas, with just one reception for 13 yards. Junior college transfer D'haquille Williams (6-2, 216) had nine receptions for 154 yards and a TD against the Razorbacks, and added four receptions for 60 yards against San Jose State.

Still, a Coates-Williams duo could become a devastating one for Auburn, even if the Tigers remain a run-oriented team (they ran the ball on 72 percent of their plays from scrimmage last season). Williams is a good athlete himself and was considered the nation's top junior college wide receiver last season.

K-State's secondary was one of the best in the Big 12 last season and is expected to be one of the league's best again this season. Senior cornerback Randall Evans (6-0, 190), who also sees a lot of time at nickelback, probably is K-State's best defensive back, and it will be interesting to see how often he is matched up against either Coates or Williams.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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