Oct. 6, 2013
Auburn's Cassanova McKinzy made the hit against LSU this season (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn linebacker Cassanova McKinzy is apparently on the comeback trail after a scary-looking neck injury that saw him placed on a cart and taken away from Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night.
McKinzy was at practice Sunday and "did everything that everybody else did," according to defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson. It was a practice day of review with no contact, but it was still a bounce-back day for McKinzy after suffering the injury in Auburn's 30-22 win over Ole Miss.
Auburn's medical staff took their time dealing with the injury Saturday night, finally placing him on a stretcher with his head strapped down. He was taken to East Alabama Medical Center for an examination, and returned to the sidelines, wearing a neck brace, before the game was over.
The news was good on two other players who were hurt Saturday. Quarterback Nick Marshall, who tweaked a knee, isn't expected to miss any time. And defensive lineman Montravius Adams, who suffered a bruised knee, should be back, too.
Two other players who didn't dress out because of injuries – defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker and safety Justin Garrett – are considering redshirt seasons because of injuries, Johnson said.
McKinzy seems to be on track to return, perhaps at a slower pace.
"When they got out there to him, they took a very precautionary tract on it," Johnson said. "As we know right now, and I don't want to get to specifics because I don't know all the technicalities, it's a pretty serious neck sprain, or stinger, but nothing that you would say is critical and that he can't play. It's just a matter of time before that thing relaxes… how soon does it leave?"
Johnson said he wouldn't know McKinzy's status for a couple of days. Auburn will likely take its time with McKinzy, especially since the Tigers play 1-5 Western Carolina on Saturday.
"I'm always going to be optimistic," Johnson said. "If he can't contact this week, I always lean toward not letting them play. They haven't told me that yet."
Garrett has a star-crossed year. He was the standout defensive player in the spring in Johnson's hybrid Star safety position, but hurt his foot before the first game. He returned for Game 3 and 4, but suffered a crack in a bone in his other foot.
Johnson said Garrett is not ready to return.
Whitaker, the veteran defensive tackle, hasn't played this year because of a leg injury. He could take a redshirt season as well.
"Does he want to try to come back pretty soon, or does he want to take this year?" Johnson asked.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine