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Dave martin, Associated Press
New Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler talks with his players during their annual spring A-Day NCAA college football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, April 14, 2012.

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder says players who missed at least part of the spring with injuries have an uphill battle.

VanGorder said Thursday they're "depth guys at this point" who will have to fight to close the gap in preseason camp.

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The Tigers were without key defensive linemen Nosa Eguae (E-gway), Ken Carter and Gabe Wright among others for all or part of spring practices. VanGorder says that missing that time in a new system is "not an easy thing to overcome." However, he says even short-handed the defensive line showed the most progress, praising tackle Jeff Whitaker and end Dee Ford especially.

On the offensive side, coordinator Scot Loeffler says it wouldn't bother him if the battle to be the starting quarterback carries into late August.