09 August 2010
The Alabama football team put on full pads during Monday's practice. It marked the first during fall camp that Bama went in full pads. It's still brutally hot in Tuscaloosa, but the practice had plenty of energy.
Here's what you need to know:
Kendall Kelly missed his third straight practice due to "issues with the heat." In fact, he's been removed from the 105 man roster. That means he likely won't rejoin the team until school starts on the 17th. Taking his spot on the roster is Hunter Bush, a junior walk-on defensive back from Wetumpka. Kelly is changing positions, and he needs all of the practice reps he can get. Aside from the obvious health concerns, this is a move that puts a serious road block in Kelly's career. He's just a redshirt freshman, so there's plenty of time to recover, but it seems unlikely he'll make a major contribution in 2010.
Otherwise Bama is healthy through the first four days.
Mark Ingram returned to the team after missing the last two days to attend his grandfather's funeral. The NCAA requires that players have a four day acclimation period before putting on full pads, so Mark was in shells today an will have to go in shells again on Tuesday. His prescence makes a huge difference, though, and he's clearly one of Bama's most vocal leaders.
Freshman Blake Sims was once again with the quarterbacks, but has yet to don the black no contact jersey worn by the other QBs. Don't be surprised to see him continue to get reps with the quarterbacks throughout the remainder of the season, as Bama will have just two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in 2011. I still think he ends up at either receiver or safety, but he is a solid back-up plan for Bama to have in case of emergency at the quarterback position. It's also likely that the staff told him that he would get a look at quarterback, and Nick Saban likes to keep those promises.
The team typically starts to take shape once the pads go on, but it usually takes a few days. We've yet to see any major movement on the organizational (depth) chart, but that could change in the next couple of days. This is the point where a redshirt or true freshman will start to make a move if they are going to do so.
It looks like Undra Billingsley is still clinging to the number two spot at left defensive end behind Marcell Dareus. I still think we'll see Damion Square slide over if Dareus misses time, but it's a clear indication of Billingsley's overall talent that he's still apparently ahead of Chris Bonds and Brandon Lewis. The fact that he's also taken some reps at tight end tell you all you need to know about his athleticism, even at 280 lbs.
Darrington Sentimore is still working at the bottom of the defensive end grouping; trying to work his way out of the doghouse over the fireworks incident a few weeks back. Michael Bowman has already made his way back into his normal spot in the receiver rotation, but Sentimore has yet to do so.
Will Lowery continues to get solid repetitions, especially when Bama goes to the nickel and dime packages. What is encouraging about Bama's secondary situation is that Mark Barron and Robert Lester have not moved from their safety spots at all. You obviously need to build depth, but Bama's front line looks to possibly be set.
DeMarcus Milliner and John Fulton are still battling to crack that rotation, and Milliner still appears to be ahead, at least when it comes to playing the money position. His high school experience at safety helps there, since the money is a corner/hybrid position.
Look for Tuesday to be a big day, with Bama set to practice twice. They will likely go in full pads for one practice, and shells for the other. But it will be the first time that the entire squad goes twice in the same day.
The team has been practicing through some brutal heat, so mental strength and will gradually begin to become a factor. They'll get a bit of a break from that when they go to two practices in one day, because they go once in the morning before it gets hot, and once in the evening. But even with the break from the heat, it'll be a big test for all players to go twice in the same day.
We'll have our normal reports.
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