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Auburn's Kevin Steele likes 'the physicality' of defense
Josh Holsey is getting ready to go in Auburn practices
Aug. 23, 2016

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. Josh Holsey has been around so long he's played in 31 games, had two knee surgeries, been redshirted and has seen in plenty of action in Auburn's secondary.

"He's old, experienced and very wise," says defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, and that's why the fifth-year senior is working at safety, cornerback and the Star position in preseason practice. He's one of a party of rotating defense backs that could earn starting assignments this fall.

Auburn welcomed defensive back Marshall Taylor to practice this week, giving the graduate transfer from Miami of Ohio two weeks to prepare for the season-opener against Clemson on Sept. 3. He's a cornerback and may play nickel and certainly has experience. Safeties? Steele said Holsey, Stephen Roberts, Tray Matthews and Nick Ruffin, or some combination thereof, could start depending on the defensive alignment on the first play. Cornerbacks? Holsey, Carlton Davis and Jarvaris Davis could rotate in as starters. Roberts has worked there, too.

Steele said the defense is on course, and that the "assessment of the talent pool" hasn't changed.

"We have improved, and we’ve really worked on the physicality of things, and we’re starting to buy into that and the philosophy of who we are," Steele said.

"We’ve accentuated our work in terms of turnovers, because for those kind of things, physical guys dominate their opponent, their matchup, control their gap, tackle the football and create turnovers. That’s obviously key to it. It’s more about us than anyone we’ll play."

Taylor played 34 games at Miami of Ohio and his playing time early this year likely depends how quickly he can catch up after missing the first three weeks of practice.

"It's different for each guy. He's older," Steele said. "I've seen it in the NFL and you get a free agent to come in and you get a player that looks like he’s been with you the entire training camp. Then you get some guys that had been with you a long time and you get them in and they didn’t look that way. It’s very individual.”

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:
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