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There are many football practices in shorts and helmets. Alabama has had three spring practice days and two of those have been in shorts. But all Crimson Tide football games are played in full gear, and in Wednesday’s third practice of the spring Bama was in pads.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said that first day of real football “makes you realize how much fundamentals work we need to do and how much we need to improve.”

Alabama had its first practice on March 13, its second on March 23 after The University’s spring break, and finally got into full gear Wednesday.

“It’s good to be back,” Saban said. “Everybody made it back from spring break. We practiced Monday in just shorts and helmets and tried to get the players back in the swing of things. I’m pleased with the retention that we had from before spring break.”

Bama will continue practice starting Thursday. The 15 spring workout dates will conclude with the A-Day Game on April 18.

Saban said the work in full gear “is really good for all the young players who can make a contribution next year, really become a part of the team. They’ve got a great learning process to go through – not only learning what to do but how to do it, why it’s important to do it that way, and be able to go out there and make the adjustments and do the execution that you need to be able to do your job so that 11 guys are always doing their job so you have a chance to be successful.

“We’re still trying to teach some of these guys how to practice so that we can practice well together, practice fast, and make the kind of improvement that we need to make.”

He added that being in full gear “is going to give us a great opportunity to help some guys do that.”

As a technique to help the players have “personal improvement,” Saban had the players write down a plan of what each needed to do. “It’s a self-directed plan that will give them a sense of growth when they do improve and get better and a sense of purpose in what they want to try to accomplish this spring. I think it obviously helps the intrinsic motivation that we want to get from the individual players and see how important it really is to them to be a contributor to the team.”

It is not unusual for Alabama to experiment with players in different positions in the spring, and Saban said that this week the staff has looked at Anthony Averett, who was listed as a cornerback, at wide receiver. Wide receiver is a position that was hit hard by graduation after the 2014 season.

Saban said, “He’s a guy that has great speed and we’d like to find a role for him on the team. He was doing a really good job at corner and had made a significant amount of improvement. But we want to do experiments with guys in the spring. This is the time to do it. So that’s one of the things that we wanted to do.”

On the injury front, Saban said the only news is that left tackle Cam Robinson had sprained his ankle, but would “probably be back to practice on Friday” when Bama returns to the field. “We’re hopeful nothing serious, just a lateral sprain of his ankle.’

Alabama will have its annual coaching clinic over the next few days.

Saban said, “We take pride in trying to do a fantastic job for our profession. This is the one opportunity that we have here to host all the  high school coaches and help their personal growth and development as coaches. We try to do the best job that we can in terms of the quality of speakers we get and the time that our coaches invest in these next few days so that we can help promote our profession and help these guys grow professionally.  We’ve got some great speakers – Bill Cowher, Jason Garrett, Tom Moore, Tom Hermann, a lot of our staff, a lot of really good high school successful coaches will be here to speak, as well. This is something that we’re always excited about. They get to watch practice a couple days, as well. We’re really looking forward to that.”

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