AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn will get star wide receiver D'haquille Williams back for Saturday's game at Alabama, but the Tigers will be without starting defensive end DaVonte Lambert, who had season-ending knee surgery Tuesday.
In his weekly news conference Tuesday, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said he didn't know if Williams would be 100 percent but that the team is expecting him to play. Despite missing the last two games, Williams leads the team with 38 catches for 609 yards and five touchdowns.
"He's one of our playmakers," Malzahn said. "He's had an outstanding year. He has the ability to make one-on-one plays and plays in traffic."
Williams sprained his MCL when he was tackled by Texas A&M defensive back De'Vante Harris in a game against the Aggies earlier this month.
The return of Williams will boost the offense, but the defense might be reeling due to Lambert's injury. The junior college transfer had 24 tackles, including seven for a loss, and he led Auburn with 3.5 sacks.
"He's a factor, there's no doubt," Malzahn said. "But we need some other guys to step up. Football's a team game and when you're playing against your rival, it's got the ability to make guys step up and play better than they have all year. That's what we need."
Malzahn announced that defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker also will not play Saturday. He's missed the last two games with a back injury.
Auburn (No. 14 CFP, No. 15 AP) will face Alabama (No. 1 CFP, No. 2 AP) in the Iron Bowl on Saturday night at 7:45 p.m. on ESPN.