05 April 2010
After having the weekend off, the Alabama football team headed back to the practice field on Monday afternoon. The practice was held in full pads, giving the players a chance to continue the physicality that they showed in Friday's scrimmage.
Here's what you need to know:
As is typically the case after a scrimmage, there were a handful of guys that were banged up. Thankfully none of the injuries look to be very serious.
The most serious of those belonged to linebacker Nico Johnson, who spent the practice in a black jersey riding a stationary bike. He was joined on the bikes by William Vlachos, who is still expected to miss the entirety of the spring. It is unknown at this point whether or not Johnson will be able to return before April 17's A-Day Game.
Linebacker Tana Patrick was also in a black jersey, though he was able to participate in individual drills. He was joined in black by Milton Talbert, who has been in black the entire spring.
Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore was absent from practice, and there was no reason given. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that it was a travel issue, but for now there is no official word.
Kendall Kelly was back with the defensive backs after spending the scrimmage with the receivers. As has usually been the case when Kelly is on defense, Brandon Gibson was back with the receivers.
Jerrell Harris was once again working with the outside linebackers after spending most of last week with the inside linebackers. He looks to be the guy running in the front of the sam linebacker group, and my guess is that he's getting work in with the inside guys because the sam comes off of the field in the nickel package. Harris has practiced a good bit at the money position in the dime defense, demonstrating that he has good coverage skills. With Nico Johnson possibly out for the remainder of the spring, Harris looks like the most likely candidate to hold down both the sam spot in the base 3-4 and the will in the nickel.
With Harris working inside last week we saw Chris Jordan getting a lot of time with the outside linebackers. He's back inside now, and really looks to have made a big jump towards playing time. He's still battling a number of talented players, but with Johnson out for now, he's running alongside Dont'a Hightower with the first unit. With Hightower, Jordan, and Johnson all vying for two spots in the middle, it will be interesting to see how things shape up in the fall. I expected that we would see Hightower move over to the mike, and Johnson continue to hold down the will spot that he had for the second half of the 2009 season. That looks to be the direction that the staff is still headed, but Hightower's vesatility certainly gives the staff options.
It looks like the moves we saw on the offensive line last week might be a bit more lasting that I had anticipated. If the staff were simply moving guys onto the first team to try different guys, then we likley would have seen a different group after the first scrimmage. Instead, we continued to see D.J. Fluker at right tackle and Chance Warmack at left guard.
Having said that, there were some odd combinations tried by Joe Pendry after the first group of drills was complete. The most odd set saw Barrett Jones slide from right guard to right tackle and Anthony Steen take his spot at right guard. Jones has now spent time at guard, tackle, and center during his time at Bama, and I'm guessing this was an experiment to check both his ability to play right tackle, and to see if Steen is a real contender for a starting guard spot.
In non practice news, it looks as though the Ole Miss game will be Homecoming this fall. Bama dropped a Homecoming contest to Ole Miss in 1988 - that will, of course, have no impact on the 2010 game, but it is interesting to note.
Bama will practice again on Wednesday. We will have our normal report.
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