Auburn's Shon Coleman works on his game under the watchful eye of offensive line coach J.B. Grimes
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― The play of defensive end Carl Lawson has been the talk of Auburn's preseason practice, but the guy who goes against most every day isn't afraid.
Offensive lineman Shon Coleman beat cancer, so trying to beat Lawson puts things in perspective.
He welcomes this challenge.
"I love going against him," Coleman says. "Some days he gets me and some days I get him. Obviously, I think he's one of the best players in the country. Going against him helps me to work on quickness and speed. He has true speed, so every day I’m going against him I have to bring my A game."
Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has watched the battles involving Coleman and offensive lineman Avery Young against Lawson, the defensive end who will also play in the new stand-up Buck position. Lashlee called Lawson "a relentless man."
"He's got a great motor, on top of incredible ability," Lashlee said earlier in fall workouts. "Both Avery and Shon have gotten all they want of that and that's good for them. They've gotten him a few times, but Carl's really been playing well this fall camp."
Coleman is part of slightly rebuilt, but largely experienced, offensive line that is moving toward the season-opener against Louisville on Sept. 5.
Coleman knows the ways of Auburn better than most of his teammates. Signed in 2010, but his arrival delayed by cancer, Coleman knows what it takes, now as a savvy veteran. Some of Auburn's rookie lineman were in the ninth grade when Coleman originally signed.
The assignment for the young and old lineman may will be to protect new starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who is more a classic passer than the departed Nick Marshall.
"That's something I have been working very hard on all summer just getting back to the speed of the game," Coleman said. "We’re going to be going against a lot of big-time ends this year. It's just like going against Carl. Going against him is a way for me to get better on that note."
As far as Johnson goes, Coleman said he's "starting to come into his own. He's a big-time leader for us. We're very confident in him. We know he's going to have a great season.
Coleman said he's been impressed with Johnson "the way he deals with teammates, he’s a guy that embraces everybody. On the field he’s a guy that is out there being vocal and making sure everybody is doing everything right. He knows the offense like the back of his hand so we're very confident in him."
As far as the more competitive races in the offensive line, at center between Austin Golson, and at left guard between Alex Kozan vs. Devonte Danzey. Coleman said all the contestants are capable.
"It's a great competition. They're pretty much getting each other better. All those guys coming in are working hard. I feel like all of them have a chance to start," Coleman said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine