Bama Injury News Mostly Good

Injuries are a part of sports, more so in football than most. But as Alabama has returned to the practice field, the news from the training room seems to be an uptick.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban had good news on te offensive line front Saturday as the Crimson Tide wound up its "camp" portion of bowl practice. Although Bama's next game will be against Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl on January 1, for the past three days Alabama has been working on the basics with four practices devoted to blocking, tackling, timing, etc. The Tide will begin to put the game plan in Sunday.

Following the Tide's Saturday practice, Saban said that center William Vlachos, who had been out a few days with illness, was back on the field. He also reported that offensive guard Barrett Jones, who has been out of action since suffering a high ankle sprain late in the season, "practiced a little bit more today. He's done a little more each day. Hopefully, he'll be able to continue to make that kind of pogress.

"This is really the first time we've had the offensive line sort of back together was today. So hopefully we'll be able to continue to make progress with that group."

In addition to Jones missing late in the season, Bama's offensive line was without the services of right tackle D.J. Fluker much of the season.

Saban said injuries to offensive linemen affect "continuity." The loss of a big playmaker on offense or a defensive star is obvious for the individual loss. But in the offensive line, the loss of one of five men can have an adverse effect "because those guys work together so much," Saban said.

The coach said, "You get the right combination of guys feeling comfortable playing with experienced guys next to guys that have a little less experience. That makes them feel more comfortable and confident and probably minimizes some of the mental errors, which was something that hurt us in the last few games because we didn't have the continuity that we had earlier in the season. I think that's the biggest thing."

He said Alabama's back-up offensive linemen "all are capable. It's just the consistency and performance of doing the right things the right way all the time that sort of add up a little bit and all of the sudden you're not as efficient as you used to be. Hopefully, we'll get all these guys back and we'll be able to be able to get them playing like they're capable of playing. That'll be helpful to us being able to run and pass protect."

Saban said some players probably had a recurrence of soreness with the return to tough practice days after no games for over two weeks.

"That's really what you want," Saban said, "and then the guys will start recovering. And then they'll get three days off around Christmas, which will give them good recovery, but hopefully we'll be where we need to be when we go back to practice in Orlando."

Freshman linebacker Adrian Hubbard, who almost certainly will be redshirted this year, has not been taking part in practice, instead spending time working out. Saban said Hubbard is suffering from back spasms. "He just has been locked up and not been able to do anything," the coach said. "Hopefully, he will recovery quickly and will be back out there, but that is pretty much a medical decision."

There is considerable injury interest in Alabama All-America safety Mark Barron, who suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the final game of the season. He is out for "Probably three to four months," Saban said. "This is not an injury that is going to affect his future in any way. It is one that will require some down time to heal. He'll be able to start doing some things. I really didn't talk to doc about what exactly he can do when. It's going to be probably be four months before he can get out there and start doing everything a football player does."

Saban said Barron could return for spring practice, expected to begin in March.

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