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Robert Nkemdiche still going through concussion protocol, Tony Conner to start running

Hugh Freeze gave details on a pair of injured Ole Miss defensive stars during his Monday press conference.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Two days after Robert Nkemdiche woke up with headaches that forced him to sit out against Texas A&M, we're still waiting to hear if the big man will be suiting up for Auburn on Saturday. Hugh Freeze said during his Monday press conference that his star defensive tackle is still working his way back.

"Robert is still going through the concussion protocol... He needs to be symptom free. I haven't heard [Monday] if he is ready to go or not."

The medical staff thought Nkemdiche was symptom free last Friday when they officially cleared him to return to play against A&M, less than a week after he banged his head into the turf of the Liberty Bowl while trying to run for a first down against Memphis. But news broke less than two hours before kickoff that he was back on the shelf after waking up that morning with a headache.

The good news, Freeze said, is that Nkemdiche doesn't have to start the concussion evaluation process from scratch. That process, which is a standardized protocol developed by the NCAA, requires an athlete to progress through an increasingly intensive checklist of physical activities (from light aerobic activity through non-contact drills) as well as passing a computerized neurocognitive assessment and a balance test.

Nkemdiche's already made it through all of that. Now he just needs to make it Saturday without any symptoms.

Tony Conner is gonna start running again

Here's the other significant injury news out of Freeze's presser pertained to Conner's recovery from a torn meniscus:

"Tony is going to try to run [Monday]. I have no idea how that will go... Hopefully things go well with Tony, but I don't know. He's been in the pool running, but we'll see how he does on grass."

After Conner went down against Alabama, Freeze said he had a minimum recovery time of four weeks, so it's a little disheartening to hear that five weeks later he's just now running again. On the other side, things sound more positive than when Freeze hinted earlier this month that Conner could miss the rest of the season.