For all of fall camp Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson and defensive line coach Rodney Garner have been looking for someone to be the Tigers pass rusher. Auburn is trying to fill the void left by defensive end Carl Lawson, the team’s leading returner in sacks. Lawson had ACL surgery on his right knee May 1 after missing some of spring practice and the A-Day game.

On Monday, while appearing on SiriusXM College Sports Nation, Johnson said that if Lawson were to return midway through the season, he’d be ahead of schedule.

“I would say (missing) half the season would be optimistic,” Johnson said.

Auburn lost their leading pass rusher, Dee Ford, to the NFL draft. With Lawson out, his back-up from last year, LaDarius Owens, would obviously be the most natural person to take over. Owens has his own problem though.  The senior, who had two surgeries during the offseason for a stress fracture in his tibia and a broken left foot, has an infection in one of the surgically repaired areas. He was held out for a majority of fall camp and could continue to miss valuable practice time.

RELATED: Injuries Make Auburn’s Defense A Work In Progress

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. After a lot of shuffling and trying people at different positions, some players have emerged. Two new players have made big strides. Junior college transfer DaVonte Lambert’s athleticism has been tremendous in camp while true freshman Raashed Kennion has turned heads. Both spent a majority of fall camp lining up at defensive end.

Gabe Wright, Montravius Adams and Cassanova McKinzy all have embraced the idea of moving from their natural positions to the edge for pass rush situations. Wright and Adams are both tackles while McKinzy will start at linebacker.