11 August 2011
The University of Alabama football team practiced in full pads on Thursday. For the first time this camp, a couple of major pieces to the puzzle were absent.
Here's what you need to know:
Dont'a Hightower missed practice to have surgery on a fractured right hand. He is expected to practice on Friday. Read those two sentences together. The surgery is apparently similar to the one that Julio Jones had last season, though not quite as serious. Julio missed zero practices and went on to a far better second half of the season. Dont'a isn't expected to be affected much by the injury.
William Vlachos missed practice due to being sick. There weren't any details given other than that, so I would imagine we'll see Bama's starting center back at practice soon.
Undra Billingsley missed practice again as he is continuing to recover from an illness that hospitalized him on Tuesday. The staff is still indicating that it isn't serious, but he's missed four practices now. With Bama's talent at defensive end, those four practices will tough for him to make up.
Ryan Kelly missed his fourth practice after apparently suffering a concussion during fan day. Doctors have become increasingly more cautious to clear players after concussions, so don't expect a quick return. With Kelly almost certain to redshirt this season, there is even less motivation to push for him to return quickly.
When players miss practice due to illness or injury, opportunities are created for other guys. Chris Jordan worked at Hightower's linebacker spot, for instance.
The big news of the day was what transpired in Vlachos's absence, though. Barrett Jones took the snaps with the first unit at center. That's right, the 2010 starter at right guard, who is the likely starter at left tackle for 2011 took the first team snaps at center. He's that versatile, and that smart. In his place on the first unit at left tackle? True freshman Cyrus Kouandjio. Don't expect him to remain completely with the first team when Vlachos returns, but getting time with the first unit should accelarate his learning curve. He will almost certainly get some time with the first unit during Saturday's scrimmage. It's pretty simple, too... perform well and possibly get a chance to start. Interestingly enough, his backup at left tackle was his brother Arie.
Otherwise it was more of the same today. Blake Sims at quarterback and running back in white. Christion Jones working with the running backs and wide receivers - primarily at running back. William Ming was still at outside linebacker.
Duron Carter was still not at practice, and according to his father, he likely won't be at practice until some time late next week. It's a complicated issue involving transcripts from multiple schools. It's not a matter of Alabama questioning courses from another school, but a matter of those schools taking their time supplying the transcripts. It's frustrating, but if there is one player who can afford to miss practice, it's a guy who already has major college experience.
Bama will practice twice on Friday, and we should be able to get a sense of who will be where for Saturday's scrimmage by the close of the night practice. We'll have our normal reports from both practices.
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