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evaluation of offensive line continues

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Auburn's evaluation of offensive line could continue beyond first fall scimmage

Updated Aug 9, 5:00 PM; Posted Aug 9, 4:10 PM

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Gallery: Auburn's first fall football scrimmage 2018

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By James Crepea

jcrepea@al.com

Auburn's offensive line may not be entirely settled just yet.

By far the biggest concern on the entire roster heading into the season, the Tigers were hoping to set the starting five possibly after Thursday's first fall scrimmage.

But a neck injury to right guard Calvin Ashley, who was taken to the hospital for precautionary measures and later discharged, could delay finalizing personnel decisions.

Ashley is contending to start at right guard if Mike Horton ends up winning the starting center job, a role where he split time with Kaleb Kim on Thursday.

Gus Malzahn said he expected Horton to still split time at guard and center, which would make locking in a starting five in the next day or so less likely.

"We need to watch the film first but Mike worked at center probably, I would say, close to half the time (Thursday)," Malzahn said. "Kaleb got half the reps. I believe he got half the reps with the orange (first team) and the blue (second team). Tucker Brown got some reps at center with the orange and blue too."

Earlier in the week, offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said if Nick Brahms, who is still recovering from a leg injury suffered in the spring and been held out of contact, can return to the field by Auburn's second scrimmage on Wednesday he too could contend for the job.

"We want Nick to get back as quick as he can and have an opportunity to get in there and get some reps because I think he was making progress when he got hurt," Lindsey said. "But at the same time, he can only heal so fast, and it's kind of out of our hands. When he gets back, we'll definitely give him an opportunity."

This is to say nothing of the "very close" competition at right tackle between Austin Troxell and Jack Driscoll.

As far as the line's performance on Thursday went, Malzahn was pleased overall and Jarrett Stidham said it played "really well."

However, linebacker Deshaun Davis said the first-team defense did a good job stopping the run and "probably would've sacked" Jarrett Stidham a couple of times if he were live and the coaches weren't letting some deep throws go.

"I've got to sit down and look at the details about the double-teams and how much movement (the offensive line) got and everything that goes with that," Malzahn said. "So it's hard for me to stand up here right now and tell you exactly how good or how bad they did until I really watch it."

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

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