Steen Getting Hang Of Right Guard

On Thursday, Barrett Jones – the All-America right guard candidate who may be a left tackle this year – was snapping the ball, playing center with the first offense. It doesn't seem like a big deal to see offensive linemen moving around. That is part of the Nick Saban system, that offensive linemen learn more than one position. It is depth insurance.

But last spring, a week before the A-Day Game, when Alabama moved Barrett Jones from right guard to left tackle, it was an unexpected development for one Crimson Tide player.

"Shock," said Anthony Steen, the 6-3, 303-pound sophomore from Lambert, Miss. "Big surprise.

"But I had to grow up sometime, and I think that really helped me out for this year."

Steen has been number one at right guard since the move of Jones to tackle. Other than the fill-in work at center Thursday when All-America candidate William Vlachos was out with illness, Jones has not been away from the left tackle position that was vacated by James Carpenter, now with the Seattle Seahawks.

This isn't Steen's first time at the position. After being redshirted in 2009, he played in all 13 Alabama games last season, including starting the final two regular season games of 2010, Georgia State and Auburn. He replaced Jones in the line-up when Jones suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half of the Mississippi State game. Jones didn't return until the Capital One Bowl game against Michigan State.

"I think Barrett being hurt wasn't best for the team, but it helped me to become more of a man and understand the plays better and understand the game more," Steen said. He added that his first few plays in college football were "Crazy. I was freaking out on some of them. And then it started to click and I kept on going from there."

An offensive lineman isn't usually noticed for the good plays he has, but a missed block in a crucial situation is seared into memory. Steen probably knew the question was coming in his first Alabama interview this week, but it was, nevertheless, difficult for him to get it out.

"Going against Nick Fairley was tough, but I wish I could do it again to tell you the truth," Steen said of his memorable missed block against the Auburn All-America. "Just getting beat that one time really sucked. But I can't go back and do it. So I'm looking ahead to the future."

Steen, who is one of the strongest players on Alabama's team, said that camp is going well, although "It's hot. We pray for the clouds to come."

Alabama is preparing for the season-opener on Sept. 3 when the Crimson Tide hosts Kent State in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Bama will have its first scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday. (All practices are closed.)

Steen said, "I think I've improved a good bit, helped my teammates, helping me out on the plays, my coach helping out my technique and my footwork, and overall it's good. "I feel pretty good now. This past summer we worked on the plays and I feel better now."

He said the summer work was "pretty important to work on our speed and our strength together and we all came together on certain days and worked on our footwork and our plays and it helped a lot."

Steen is a big man, but he plays next to a much bigger one, right tackle D.J. Fluker. "It's good having a guy that big who has your back on double teams."

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