03 November 2009
It was back into full pads on Tuesday afternoon for the Alabama football team as it continues to progress towards the LSU game on Saturday.
Here's what you need to know:
Colin Peek was in his customary white jersey, though he did not work out during the media viewing period. After what looked like him testing his knee, he disappeared into the Mal Moore Building for a few minutes, before returning and doing more of the same. His status for Saturday remains uncertain. Look for Preston Dial and Michael Williams to play in his stead if he is unable to go.
Terry Grant and Dre Kirkpatrick were once again on exercise bikes, wearing black jerseys because of muscle strains. If they don't practice tomorrow, they would have to be considered doubtful for Saturday.
While neither guy is a prominent member of the offense or defense, they both play roles on special teams - with both guys on the kick coverage unit and Grant one of the Tide's two return men on kickoffs. Replacing two guys on what has been an improved kick coverage unit looks like a potentially dicey proposition when facing LSU's Trendon Holliday. The diminutive speedster averages only 23.73 yards per return, but has the type of speed that makes him dangerous.
While Grant has done an acceptable job on kick returns (22.0 per), his likely replacement there would be Trent Richardson. While Richardson's lone return went for just 20 yards, I think we're all okay with the idea of him getting more touches. Though, honestly, I'm hoping the Tide kick return unit gets just one chance, while we're far more focused on who is covering kicks during multiple Bama kickoffs - and if that's the case, it likely won't matter.
As for replacing those guys on scrimmage plays - Demetrius Goode is next in line at running back, with Chris Rogers the likely guy at corner. While it's unlikely that neither guy would play much (especially Kirkpatrick), you always have to keep an eye on depth when other guys start nursing injuries. Look for the Tide staff to do anything possible to avoid playing either Eddie Lacy at running back or B.J. Scott at corner, as both guys appear to be headed for redshirts.
Of course, both of these guys could be back tomorrow, which would make all of that moot.
As expected, Jerrell Harris has been back working with the outside linebackers. He's the projected backup to Reamer at the sam spot, and a likely candidate for playing time as a rabbit rusher if Courtney Upshaw is unable to get sufficient pressure on Jordan Jefferson and Russell Shepard. With the speed of the two LSU quarterbacks an issue, the Tide might have to go with the linebacker capable of covering the most ground. And, to be honest, I'm not sure which of Upshaw, Harris, or Chavis Williams is the fastest - though I would guess it is likely Harris. With quarterbacks who are a threat to run, speed isn't always the answer, either. Sometimes the guy who is able to stay within his assignment and keep the quarterback from having a lane to run in gets the nod.
One place that Peek's absence (if he's unable to go) could be felt the most is in goal line situations. Not only is he a big target for Greg McElroy, but he is the best blocker among the Tide tight ends. One thing we saw early in the season, that we haven't seen in recent games, is the use of Alfred McCullough as a an extra blocker on the end of the line of scrimmage. He's been getting an awful lot of work as the backup at right tackle, and could be used again if Bama is forced to go to a three tight end set without Peek.
Alabama will practice again tomorrow afternoon, and we'll have our normal report. It will likely come after the Tide's exhibition basketball game, though. That game tips off at 7:30 at Coleman Coliseum.
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