Arden Key

Arden Key at Wednesday's practice. 

Arden Key's journey back to full health hit another benchmark Wednesday.

Key, LSU's All-American junior edge rusher, practiced in full for the first time since last December, running through drills in full pads and without a gold injury jersey. 

It's the second significant progression for Key in the last two days. On Tuesday, Key, wearing a gold injury jersey, collided with teammates in a live one-on-one pass-rushing drills, believed to be the first time he participated in full contact this fall. 

Key is not likely to play Saturday against FCS foe UT-Chattanooga, but his quick progression this week is a good sign for his return. LSU opens Southeastern Conference play at Mississippi State next week.

Key underwent shoulder surgery in May to repair an injury that lingered for much of last season. The injury is believed to be a rotator cuff issues, according to Key's teammates. 

On Wednesday, Key wore a black brace on his left shoulder. He wore the brace late last season.

Many project Key as a first round NFL draft pick in 2017. He set the school's single-season rushing record last year, recording 12 sacks as defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's edge-rushing outside linebacker/defensive end hybrid. 

He's steadily progressed since his drama-filled spring. The school announced in February that Key would take a leave of absence for "personal reasons." He missed all of spring practice, returning after his surgery in late May. 

He's progressed little by little since the operation. He began running and weight training in early July and participated in non-contact drills for the first two weeks of preseason camp. He donned full pads at camp around Week 3, but Key's personal doctor ruled him out of the season opener against BYU, coach Ed Orgeron said. 

Key made his two biggest leaps this week after Orgeron foreshadowed the events Tuesday afternoon.

"He’s still waiting to be cleared for contact,” Orgeron said before reporters spotted Key at Tuesday's practice. “We’re going to do a little more with him today. Going to see what he can do. He’ll get a little more contact today as far as repetition. I don’t know if he’s full speed yet. We’re bringing him along. He’s not ready to play, hasn’t been cleared for a game yet.”

Other practice observations

  • Offensive lineman Donavaughn Campbell joined a normal list of players who were absent from practice (receiver Dee Anderson and TE Caleb Roddy).
  • Defensive end Rashard Lawrence missed a third straight day of practice for what is believed to be precautionary reasons. Lawrence played a complete game against BYU and did not suffer any significant injury. He limped while on the field at least twice from what appeared to be a tweaked ankle, shaking it off quickly and remaining in the game.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.