Lester Optimistic About 2012 Defense

Robert Lester looks around and doesn't see any starting teammates from the 2011 team in the Alabama secondary. But Lester's not concerned. The upcoming fifth-year senior safety is more than a glass-half-full kind of guy. He sees hard work filling the glass.

The Alabama football team continued its spring practice schedule on Saturday with a two-hour workout in full pads at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in front of an estimated 1,200 coaches from around the region who were attending the 2012 Alabama Coaching Clinic.

It was the second day in full pads for the 2012 Crimson Tide, who held workout number five of the 15-practice spring schedule. Alabama will take Sunday off before returning to work on Monday afternoon. Spring practice concludes on Saturday, April 14, with the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. A-Day will be broadcast live by CSS at 2 p.m. CDT.

The Crimson Tide defense returns four starters on the defensive side of the football from last year's team that led the nation in all of the major defensive categories. Senior Robert Lester is the only defensive back to return and he is impressed with the young talent the Tide has on defense.

Lester said practice "is going good. We've got a lot of new guys out there who are anxious to get started, put the pads on, do what they know, and show how they can compete."

Two of the newcomers aren't really so young. Travell Dixon and Deion Belue were considered the top two cornerbacks in the nation coming out of junior college. Lester said, "They are athletes and Coach (Nick) Saban trusted they could come in and play. If he trusted they can, we will too. We're going to do whatever we can do to encourage them, motivate them, let them know they can play here. Hopefully they will get on the right track and play here."

Lester said he is impressed with the junior college transfers because of "their competitive attitude. Everyone out there on defense is a competitor, and that's what it takes to win."

Last year the Crimson Tide won the national championship in great part because Bama was the best defense in the nation, leading all others in scoring defense, rushing defense, total defense, and passing defense. So can 2012 be as good defensively as 2011?

"I would hope so," Lester said. "That's exactly what we're working for. We never want to take a step back. We always want to get better. Improve, make progress. We want to maintain everything we were number one in statswise last year, and look at our weaknesses and try to pick up on those things and get better."


Well, yes, Lester said. "I think we caused only two fumbles the whole season last year. We have to get our hat on the ball and strip it. We're working on it in practice a lot and getting better at it."

Lester works against the Bama offense every day and said that quarterback A.J. McCarron "looks a lot more confident. He's building relationships with the younger receivers and they trust him, and that's a great combination for those two positions to have. The offense is clicking. They are looking good."

Two newcomer receivers, true freshmen Chris Black and Amari Cooper who entered the University in January, are "two guys who have impressed me a lot," Lester said. "They are terrific athletes and they are showing it on the field. They are getting after it. They are competing against the Ones [first defense] and making plays against the Ones. Us having a good defense and them being that young and coming in and making plays says a lot."

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