AU linebackers taking hits

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - The Auburn linebackers' season hasn't been most notable for tackles, sacks or big plays.

The key words so far: Academics, ankles, shoulders and concussions.

The attrition started before the season when projected starter Patrick Trahan left school because of academic issues and reserve Steve Gandy gave up football after sustaining multiple concussions.

Now, starter Merrill Johnson is out for several weeks with a shoulder injury. And Tray Blackmon has missed the last 3½ games with an ankle injury.

Blackmon is expected to return for the Tigers' game at Number Four Florida Saturday night. He made his college debut in last season's win over the Gators following a suspension and returned a fumble 22 yards.

Auburn has also moved safety Eric Brock to linebacker at least temporarily.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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