13 September 2010
The Alabama football team began preparations for the first road game of the season on Monday. The practice was held in shells, and saw the return of two prominent players.
Here's what you need to know:
Marcell Dareus is 100% cleared to play, and looks ready to kill someone. Coach Saban praised his attitude over the last few weeks, even commenting on Marcell having worked with the scout team last week.
Mark Ingram is still technically listed as "day to day" but he's going to play Saturday. He is wearing a brace on his left knee, but looked solid in his individual work. The fact that he was working with the first group - ahead of the SEC's offensive player of the week - should tell you what the coaches think. Every time that Nick Saban has talked about Mark recently, he's comment on how good of a camp he's had. So the Heisman Trophy winner got better in the off season? Awesome.
Courtney Upshaw was in a crimson jersey, but wasn't working at full speed. He's expected to be ready to play, at least in a limited role, but Ed Stinson worked with the first group in drills.
James Carpenter is in a similar boat. He's wearing a white jersey and going through individual drills, but is limited in group work. Alfred McCullough was taking the snaps with the first team.
Chris Jordan practiced in his normal spot, with his shoulder injury appearing to be a minor one. When I saw him in a sling during the second half on Saturday, I feared the worst. But it looks like he'll be good to go. Whether or not he can perform well enough to keep CJ Mosley off of the field is another matter - and that's not a knock on Jordan at all.
DeMarcus Milliner was also working with the first unit in individual drills. DeQuan Menzie is still the starter in the nickel, but it looks like his achilles might limit him from being the true starter at corner. Milliner had a really good game, and has responded well after tweaking a hamstring.
At the end of the Penn State game my only concern was that the physical nature of the game might take its toll on the Tide. There were several players who came out of the game with injuries, and I thought we might see there be a bit of a hangover to the next game. The fact that no player worked in a black jersey today indicates just how mentally and physically tough these guys are, as well as how well conditioned they are.
Duke is a pass heavy offense, so I expect we'll see a lot of nickel and dime package work this week. The Tide's thin defensive backfield has exceeded expectations through the first two games, and has shown more depth than most expected.
The big question everywhere appears to be "where is B.J. Scott?" The answer to that right now looks like "with the 3rd team." There is no apparent injury, and he's not in the doghouse. He's a kid who dominated at the high school level based solely on atheltic ability, and he's struggling to adjust to the type of technique-heavy play demanded by Nick Saban. He is a superior athlete, though, so there is a great chance that he will have the light come on. If Bama were deeper at corner we might see him back on offense. As it is, it looks like he'll stay on defense. If he hasn't worked his way back up the depth chart by the end of the season... well, Bama is losing just nine seniors and expects to sign a full class of 25.
Bama will work in full pads on Tuesday, and the big thing of interest will be how much we'll see of Upshaw and Carpenter. Bama's depth is showing, and some of these guys missing snaps now will actually be a blessing when the season goes on and fatigue sets in.
We'll have our normal report.
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