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Orgeron ‘Not Expecting’ Arden Key for Season Opener

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Updating the latest from Coach O’s Thursday evening press conference.

Ed Orgeron met with media members after practice on Thursday, ahead of the Tigers’ third and final preseason camp scrimmage. Official season practices — that is to say, game prep — will begin on Monday and be open to the media. The Tigers will scrimmage a fourth time before the season opener with BYU on Labor Day Weekend, but it will be a more typical in-season type of scrimmage.

Most notably, Orgeron said that star pass-rusher Arden Key is likely out for the season opener, although he did hedge slightly.

"Nah, I don’t think so," he said when asked. "I’m not sure, but I’m not expecting it. But nothing that dude does surprises me. He’s going to go to his doctor next week and we should know pretty soon when he’s going to play."

Key is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Ray Thornton, K’Lavon Chaisson and Andre Anthony (who turned an ankle in last weekend’s scrimmage) will combine to replace Key in the lineup.

Just a guess, but watch for the Mississippi State game in week three as a good return date for Key. If he’s not ready to play versus BYU, no need to risk him against Chattanooga.

Other noteworthy quotes from Orgeron (thanks again to Nick Suss at SEC Country):

Offensive line continues to do well. KJ Malone at left tackle. Garrett Brumfield, Donovaugh Campbell, Will Clapp have practiced all week. We’ve had the full offensive line all week.

I think the receivers are probably the most improved players on the team. Stephen Sullivan has stepped up, Drake Davis has stepped up. JaCoby Stevens has learned the plays, he has strong hands. Justin Jefferson continues to look good. Dee Anderson has been limited with an injury.

We feel like we’re deep on the defensive line. Greg Gilmore and Ed Alexander have played well. Christian LaCouture and Frank Herron are considered starters sharing time at left end, backed up by Neil Farrell.

Donnie Alexander and Devin White continue to have good camps. A guy who’s really had a solid camp for us all year and I haven’t talked about is Jonathan Rucker. He’s going to start on special teams.

Jontre Kirklin is showing us a lot on special teams. Donte Jackson has made a lot of interceptions this week. At nickel has been Kary Vincent and Xavier Lewis. The guys have done a tremendous job all week.

I think we’ve had a great camp. We’re going to have an in-season Friday practice tomorrow. We’re going to scrimmage Saturday a preseason game at 11 a.m. It’ll be a full game, the last big-time scrimmage we have of the preseason. Next Saturday will be strictly a mock game. School starts on Monday, I know guys are excited.

Rashard Lawrence loves Pete Jenkins. Pete is a master of technique. Rashard is a really smart guy. He studies, learns the techniques. He’s actually improved on his defensive skills and been our most consistent defensive player this spring. He was a two-time state champion and the No. 1 player in Louisiana for a reason.

Pete is 76 years old, but if his guys aren’t doing it right, he’s going to let him know. He’s an expert at what he’s doing, especially at teaching the 4-technique. I think he’s the best in the world at that.

On Neil Farrell: Tough, tough, tough, tough, tough. Won’t back down from anything. He was coached very well in high school. Loves contact. The physicality of camp has not been too much of an adjustment. I think he’ll be an excellent player for us.

This is a good class. If Austin Deculus, Ed Ingram and Saahdiq Charles are starting, I’ll have no problem. If one of those guys have to start, I have no problem. K’Lavon’s gotta start? I have no problem. Kary Vincent, Grant Delpit, Tyler Taylor, Jacob Phillips. They’re going to play.

Tyler Shelvin is still in progress right now. It’s being reviewed. I still think he’ll be here before the season starts.

Another cool thing from Thursday’s practice...

Other stories and notes out of Thursday’s media sessions: