Notebook: Norwood to lead Alabama's receivers

With Alabama head coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier talking about having a balanced attack and airing it out more, that sure puts a smile on receiver Kevin Norwood's face.

Alabama won two national championships in three years with a heaving running game and players like Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson.

But on Sunday, new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said he wants to have a balanced attack.

Head coach Nick Saban has also been talking about airing it out more in recent weeks.

This shows that the coaches have confidence in the chemistry building between A.J. McCarron and the plethora of wide receivers Alabama has—a corps led by juniors Kevin Norwood and Kenny Bell.

"Me and Kenny have been looking forward to this," Norwood said. "We've waited, basically three or four seasons now to be leaders."

You may recall Norwood in last year's title game. He came in for an injured Marquis Maze and had four catches for 78 yards, including an impressive leaping grab over LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu for 26 yards.

Norwood, who is listed at 6-2, 195, looks bigger and stronger than he did a year ago. Cornerback Dee Milliner said he's noticed improvement while covering him during practice.

"I'm seeing great things," Milliner said. "As you saw in the championship game, he can be one of those guys that could be a great wide receiver at Alabama. He's just been working in the summer, and coming into fall camp, he's working and could be one of the guys that stand out at receiver.

Milliner said that Norwood's route running is one of the things that makes him hard to cover.

"You probably underestimate him when he lines up in front of you, but once he gets going, he's got great routes and when the ball comes, he goes up and gets it or goes down and gets it. He's just got great hands."

Secondary status

Experience in the secondary is not exactly something Alabama has. There are veteran players like Robert Lester and Milliner, but as a whole, there is work to be done having lost Dre Kirkpatrick and Mark Barron.

Luckily for the Tide, that's where Saban spends most of his time at practice. Teaching the defensive backs how to position their bodies, how to turn their hips, how to cover. It's a very hands-on approach.

Having to face the secondary at practice, Norwood was asked to give an evaluation.

"They're looking great," he said. "Coach Saban is dealing with them…They're all impressive. It's Coach Saban's defense. He's going to get them right."

Milliner said it was beneficial for JUCO transfers Deion Belue and Travell Dixon to come in the spring, and also touched on what he's seen out of junior John Fulton.

"John is one of those great competitor guys," he said. "He competes everyday. He's getting beter. He'll be on of the guys you'll see come this fall that will be out there playing. He's got a great chance to compete and go out there along with Travell and Deion and some other guys."

Puttin' on the pads

Tuesday Alabama will practice in pads for the first time this fall. Obviously that means it'll be a day with contact.

Asked what changes when the players put pads on, Norwood played coy.

"A lot of stuff changes," he said, laughing. "It's just more pads and more heat we got to deal with."

Sans depth chart at the moment, putting on pads, and then having two-a-days this Wednesday and Friday, will allow Saban to see which players he has that can compete on a consistent basis.

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