06 August 2011
The University of Alabama football team practiced for the first time as a full unit on Saturday. The afternoon practice, held in shorts, jerseys, and helmets was held in the blistering 100 degree afternoon heat in Tuscaloosa.
Here's what you need to know:
For the second consecutive day the quarterbacks were the only players in black no contact jerseys. That's an especially good sign for Eddie Lacy, Alex Watkins, and Carson Tinker. It will be interesting to see if that's the case once the pads go on. The team will probably go in shells tomorrow (add shoulder pads to the mix), but won't be in full pads until Wednesday. Also nice to see was that Marquis Maze worked without limitation after wearing a protective boot after the first practice.
Barrett Jones and walk-on wide receiver Hardie Buck were excused from practice in order to participate in their graduation ceremony. Duron Carter was also absent again, and isn't expected to join the team until mid week. Whenever he joins the team, he will have to practice for two days without pads.
Jones missing practice meant that Aldred McCullough and Cyrus Kouandjio split the reps at left tackle. The staff has been very aggressive with Kouandjio through the first two practices, which could mean that they think it's an actual possibility for him to work his way into playing time this season. If he has worked his way up to the second unit after the first scrimmage, then you will probably start seeing some real buzz about him possibly winning the job. As for now, he's still the third team guy behind Jones and McCullough.
Yesterday Christion Jones worked with the wide receivers, and today he worked with the running backs. I still expect him to ultimately end up at cornerback, but the fact that he's gotten a first look at two different offensive positions indicates that the staff likes the idea of the ball being in his hands.
There isn't likely to be a lot of movement on the organizational (depth) chart this early in camp, especially among the younger guys. So don't expect a lot of that type of news until we get closer to next weekend's first scrimmage. It's typically after that first scrimmage that we start to see some movement there.
Addressing a couple of questions from the comments yesterday:
Blake Sims is not likely to head back to wide receiver. If Duron Carter makes it in Bama will have 11 scholarship players at that position (12 if Christion Jones lands there). Blake is a great athlete, and the staff wants to get the ball in his hands. But he's not a natural wide receiver like the first eight or nine guys there. He'll probably see some time in the slot as the staff tries to create some match-up problems for defenses, but he'll likely do that shifting out of the running back position. For the second consecutive practice he worked at both quarterback and running back. Whether or not he sees the field at the true running back position will likely depend on the health of Trent Richardson (hamstring) and Eddie Lacy (pectoral), and the development of Brent Calloway.
By my numbers the Tide is currently at 83 scholarships. If Duron Carter makes it in, and he's on scholarship, that would put the Tide at 84. It's possible that we could see Wesley Neighbors or Kendall Kelly rejoin the team once school starts, but since neither guy is listed in the media guide, it would be a bit of a surprise. Though there has been no announcement made of either guy being placed on a medical hardship scholarship.
If Bama is actually under the 85 limit, expect to hear about a walk-on receiving a scholarship. Nick Saban likes to have his starting kickers on scholarship, and neither Cody Mandell, nor Jeremy Shelley are currently on scholarship. Will Lowery played a ton last year, and might play a lot this year, which would make him a strong candidate. And long snapper Carson Tinker earning a scholarship would be both deserving and a heck of a feel good story.
Tomorrow is fan day, which means that those of you in the area can check out practice for yourself. Practice starts at 2:30, with the gates of Bryant-Denny Stadium opening at 1:30. We'll have our normal report.
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