LSU players Jerald Hawkins, DeSean Smith battling injuries; Les Miles hopeful they’ll return to practice soon _lowres

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- LSU running back Darrel Williams (34) is congratulated after his touchdown run by offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins (65) in the second half of the LSU-South Carolina game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 in Tiger Stadium.

LSU’s offense can’t rid itself of the injury bug.

Two more Tigers — left tackle Jerald Hawkins and tight end DeSean Smith — are dealing with injuries as the team prepares to face No. 25 Ole Miss at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Oxford.

LSU coach Les Miles made the injuries sound minor Monday and said both should return to practice soon. Hawkins suffered an ankle injury during the second quarter of the No. 17 Tigers’ 31-14 loss to Arkansas on Saturday and did not return to the game. LSU’s radio broadcast said an X-ray on the ankle came back negative.

Miles said he probably wouldn’t practice Monday but was hopeful the junior would return Tuesday.

Sophomore KJ Malone, son of NBA legend Karl Malone, replaced Hawkins. Miles said he is unsure of how the offensive line would look if Hawkins can’t play against the No. 25 Rebels (7-3, 4-2 Southeastern).

“KJ is a quality player, but we’ll have to look around and see what we’re going to do there,” the coach said. “You just never can tell. You might move a tackle around.”

Teammates vouched for Malone’s ability.

“KJ Malone stepped up, and he played great,” redshirt freshman guard Will Clapp said. “He works his tail off at practice every day, and he was ready to come in. We were all proud of the way he played.”

Smith participated in warmups but did not dress out against the Razorbacks. Miles said the junior had an MRI that came back negative, and his injury “does not appear to be serious at this point.” Miles did not reveal the location of Smith’s injury. Smith was spotted working out in the weight room with the team Monday.

Primarily a receiving tight end, Smith has played sparingly this season and has caught only three passes for 60 yards in LSU’s run-centric offense. His injury, in conjunction with senior Dillon Gordon’s season-ending Achilles surgery three weeks ago, left the Tigers (7-2, 4-2) with only two scholarship tight ends — junior Colin Jeter and true freshman Foster Moreau — against Arkansas.

Shots fired

Bret Bielema’s postgame news conference Saturday night was mild by his standards, but Arkansas’ colorful coach took a shot at LSU on Monday.

“I’m glad the score stayed 31-14 Saturday so people who didn’t watch the game knew it was a whooping,” Bielema said during a news conference with local media.

Bielema improved to 2-1 against LSU and joined Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Houston Nutt as the only coaches to beat Miles in back-to-back years. The Razorbacks claimed the Golden Boot trophy with a 17-0 win last year after losing to the Tigers on a last-minute touchdown heave in 2013, Bielema’s first season in Fayetteville.

A&M kickoff set

LSU will get one last go under the lights of Tiger Stadium in 2015.

The Tigers will wrap up the regular season against Texas A&M at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 28 on the SEC Network, the conference announced Monday.

Former LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, who is locked in a messy lawsuit with the school over his departure, will make his first return trip to Baton Rouge after coaching the Tigers from 2009-14. Chavis left the team in the aftermath of LSU’s loss to Notre Dame in last season’s Music City Bowl.

LSU claims he owes a $400,000 buyout, but Chavis and Texas A&M are challenging that claim in the 19th Judicial Court in East Baton Rouge Parish. The next court date in the suit is scheduled for Dec. 14.

The Aggies (7-3, 3-3) cracked the top 10 earlier this season but have plummeted out of the rankings with three straight losses against SEC teams.