At last, LSU outside linebacker Arden Key has been cleared to play in a game.
Tigers coach Ed Orgeron told reporters Monday that Key will play Saturday against Mississippi State.
“Arden Key has been cleared to play this week,” Orgeron said. “He’s going to work hard all week in full contact, and we’re going to play him as much as we can. We’ll see during the week how much he can do.”
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) September 11, 2017
Key also shared on Twitter a highlight video of himself with a caption that read, “Recognize I’m back….!!😈”
Recognize I'm back….!!😈 pic.twitter.com/XuW4qCnF35
— OptimusKey_ (@ArdenKey49) September 11, 2017
Key, a junior, was cleared for a full return to practice last week but not for LSU’s game itself, a 45-10 win over Chattanooga. He also did not play in the Tigers’ 27-0 victory over BYU in the season opener.
Key previously has been unavailable to play because of an offseason shoulder surgery he underwent in May, something the school announced June 4 when he also rejoined the team. The school did not offer specifics about a timetable on his return at the time, though Orgeron said two days later that he was unsure if Key would be ready in time for the start of LSU’s fall camp in late July or early August.
Orgeron said in late July just days before the start of LSU’s fall camp – which began on July 31 – that Key would miss at least a portion of the Tigers’ August preseason practice. But Key also wrote on Twitter on July 14 that he was “ahead of schedule.”
Key’s surgery was for his left shoulder.
Key’s shoulder injury appears to possibly stem from the one he suffered in LSU’s home loss to Florida on Nov. 19 last season. While he didn’t miss any time because of the injury, it’s possible he could have had he not been suspended instead for the Tigers’ regular-season finale against Texas A&M.
In mid-February, it was announced that Key was taking a leave of absence from the team for “personal reasons” before returning not long after his surgery. He missed all of spring practice as a result of his absence.
Key was second in the SEC with a school-record 12 sacks in 2016. He had five sacks as a true freshman in 2015.
All other returning LSU defenders combined for four sacks last season.
When Key was hinting at a return to LSU in early April, he indicated that he was up from his listed 238 pounds last season to 255. He is 6-foot-6 and currently listed at 265 pounds.
LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said in mid-July that he had a plan in place on defense in the event Key wasn’t an option. True freshman K’Lavon Chaisson has helped fill the void left open by Key while he’s been out.
Key is viewed as an early favorite to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
(You can follow Kevin Connell on Twitter @_KevinConnell)
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