01 September 2010
The Alabama football team continued its preparation for San Jose State on Tuesday afternoon. The full pads practice was held in relatively mild conditions in Tuscaloosa, but the big news of the day came on the injury front.
Here's what you need to know:
Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram will miss Saturday's game after having knee surgery to fix a torn meniscus. The operation was performed by James Andres and Lyle Cain, who are both considered among the ten best orthropedic surgeons in the world - literally. The surgery went well, and Mark is expected to be back for the meat of the Tide's schedule. It's possible that he could be back as soon as the September 11th matchup with Penn State, though that might be a little early. Thankfully the Tide is amazingly deep at running back, though it's obviously difficult to replace the Heisman winner. If he misses more than one game I would say that any remote chance he had of repeating in New York will be lost. Certainly more opportunities will be created for Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, Demetrius Goode, and true freshman Corey Grant. Expect to see all of them play Saturday.
Wesley Neighbors will also miss Saturday's game after having similar surgery over the weekend. Neighbors is expected to contribute on special teams, and could work his way into the rotation at safety if Bama struggles in the secondary.
Otherwise, no one was withheld from contact. It's tough to say that the injury news has remained good when Ingram has been lost for the week, but running back is one position where the Tide can most absorb an injury. Preston Dial returned to practice after missing Monday due to illness.
The team worked on the nickel and dime during today's media viewing period, giving everyone a look at starters not listed on the depth chart. In the nickel it looks like we'll see Dre Kirkpatrick as the field corner, true freshman DeMarcus Milliner as the boundary corner, DeQuan Menzie as the star, Robert Lester and Mark Barron as the safeties, and Jerrell Harris and Dont'a Hightower as the stand-up linebackers. In the dime we're seeing the same cornerbacks, but Mark Barron slide to the star position, opening room for walk-on Will Lowery to play safety.
While Dont'a Hightower is still the primary middle linebacker in the dime, the staff is continuing to take long looks at Chris Jordan, Jerrell Harris, Nico Johnson, and true freshman C.J. Mosley. If anyone of those guys can provide steady play at the middle spot, it will allow Hightower to slide down to the line of scrimmage and be a part of the rabbit rusher group. Right now we're seeing Courtney Upshaw and Ed Stinson flanking Marcell Dareus and Damion Square in that group.
There is still no official word on Dareus, though Wednesday was the day last year when we found out that Ingram and Julio Jones would be eligible. The NCAA demonstrated on Tuesday that they care little for timing, waiting just four days prior to kickoff to rule Ole Miss projected QB Jeremiah Masoli ineligible for the 2010 season. So don't be too shocked if we don't hear anything about Dareus prior to Saturday, and if that's the case, don't expect to see Dareus on the field.
The backup offensive line saw a bit of movement, with Brian Motley working at left guard and John Michael Boswell working at right tackle. The move pushed true freshman Arie Kouandjio to the third unit for the first time in better than a week. Kouandjio might be talented enough to play a reserve role this season, but the staff would love to redshirt him.
Still no decision has been made about the punting and kicking duties, except that true freshman Cade Foster will kickoff. Coach Saban had, seemingly, joked that he might make that decision in pregame. That doesn't seem like a joke any more. I fully expect we'll see both Foster and Jeremy Shelley attempt place kicks, and I'm sure the staff would love to get true freshmen Jay Williams and Cody Mandell each an opportunity to punt. The sooner the Tide settles on a kicking rotation, the better. But I expect we'll probably see Foster and Shelley split the place kicking duties for most of the season - with Shelley attempting anything inside of 35, and Foster attempting the longer kicks.
Bama will practice again on Wednesday, in what is likely to be the final practice of the week with a media viewing period. We'll have our normal report.
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