30 August 2010
The Alabama football team held its first game-week practice of the 2010 season on Monday. The full pads practice for the Tide was the first since the release of the depth chart to the media.
Here's what you need to know:
The injury situation is still good. There were no players withheld from contact.
Preston Dial missed Monday's practice due to illness, but he is expected to be ready to go on Saturday.
Wesley Neighbors will miss the first couple of weeks due to having arthroscopic surgery for a knee injury. He's expected to be back for either Duke or Arkansas.
There were 19 instances of the word "or" on the depth chart that was released today, which indicates that there is still a tremendous amount of competition going on. Not to disrespect San Jose State, but expect the third and fourth quarters on Saturday to be audition time for a lot of different players.
The biggest thing that was visible in the practice today was something not reflected on the depth chart - the nickel package. I had speculated in the depth chart post that B.J. Scott would be the third corner with DeQuan Menzie sliding to the star. I was right about Menzie sliding to the start, but it was true freshman DeMarcus Milliner who was practicing with the first unit as the third corner today. Scott has been seen around campus wearing a protective boot, which could be playing into things, but Milliner missed a good deal of time over the last two weeks with an injury of his own. Regardless, it looks like we'll see Mark Barron stay at safety, and that's a good thing.
Jerrell Harris being listed as the starter at the will position caught a lot of people off guard today, and the reason for that was demonstrated at practice... he worked at both the will and sam linebacker spot today. He's clearly being given a tremendous amount of responsibility by the staff, and so far it looks like he's handling it. Last year was really a lost year for the junior due to sitting out the first six games because of a suspension, so 2010 should be the time for him to step forward. I expect him to play a little inside, a little outside, an even man the middle alone when Bama goes into nickel and dime. His versatility will allow the staff to do a lot of different things on defense, and that should be a frightening thought for opposing offensive coordinators.
Otherwise it was a pretty quiet day on the practice field. The intensity is good, especially since the opponent is not one that jumps out at you on the schedule. The focus of this group waned a bit during the last couple of weeks, but they seem to be back on task now. With the schedule playing out the way that it does with all of the opponents' off weeks, look for Bama to substitute early and often in games where the score will allow it. The Tide was pretty liberal with its subs in blow outs last year, but expect that to happen even sooner in 2010. Every snap saved on the knees and ankles of the linemen now is a bonus. I don't expect we'll see Saturday look like A-Day, but the fourth quarter could blow by pretty quickly.
Bama will practice again on Tuesday, and we'll have our normal report.
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