Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, the team's top returning pass rusher, is questionable to play against Mississippi State Saturday in the Tigers' first Southeastern Conference game. Ford has not played this season with a knee injury.
"We're going to err on the side of caution with Dee," said defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson.
Ford injured his knee during preseason practice. He returned to practice last week, priming some hope that he would make his season debut in Auburn's 38-9 win over Arkansas State. Ford was withheld, however, making Saturday's AU home game against Mississippi State his earliest possible action. Defensive end LaDarius Owens indicated it can't come soon enough.
"Honestly, everybody has stepped up," said Owens. "But Dee is a senior, he provides leadership, he provides, obviously, speed off the edge and experience. You can always use that, especially going into the SEC game. We've got a lot of young guys who haven't experienced that. This will be their first time going against SEC competition, so it'll be good to have Dee back."
Ford led AU in sacks last season with six.