Waiting on Nkemdiche

The status of Robert Nkemdiche for this week’s visit to Auburn remains unclear.

There was nothing to indicate Nkemdiche had taken a step back in his return from a concussion sustained at Memphis on Oct. 17, but he also was not announced as cleared.

It’s fairly common for a player to go through concussion protocol and be cleared to play within a week’s time. Trae Elston did that after the Memphis game and is this week’s SEC Defensive Player of the Week after a career-high five pass break-ups against Texas A&M.

The severity of concussions varies, and so do players in their ability to bounce back. Every player is different.

Nkemdiche was noticeably shaken up on the field and Memphis and a little wobbly when he stood up.

We were told he was making progress last week and appeared on track to play against Texas A&M until he woke up Saturday morning with headaches.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze had nothing new to report yesterday. Perhaps Nkemdiche will be back on the field this afternoon. If not we’ll follow his progress and see if he can play at Auburn.

It’s encouraging to note that Ole Miss had its best defensive game of the season without Nkemdiche.

Elston led a resurgent secondary, but up front, Marquis Haynes had his best game with three tackles for loss, two sacks, a pass break-up and a forced fumble. He’s this week’s SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week.

Redshirt freshman tackle Breeland Speaks continues his strong and energetic play, and with Nkemdiche out, Fadol Brown played a good bit inside at tackle and finished with four tackles and three quarterback pressures.

The Ole Miss offense was clearly energized by the return of Laremy Tunsil and took a big step forward with him at left tackle.

Coming off its best game of the season the defense could get the same energy if Nkemdiche is back this week, and that would be helpful in an SEC West road game at Auburn, a place the Rebels have won only twice in 16 games and not since 2003.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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