It all begins up front

With all due respect to the linebackers and DBs, if Alabama hopes to approach its level of defensive play from last season, the big men up front will lead the way.

(Above left) Nautyn McKay-Loescher jogs off the practice field, carrying his shoulder pads. Described as a player whose motor runs constantly, McKay-Loescher will be counted on to handle one of the D-End starting positions.

Ahmad Childress works with Defensive Tackles Coach Buddy Wyatt during practice. He's been bothered by asthma and ankle problems during fall camp, but once Childress is fully healthy he's expected to be one of Bama's top defensive tackles.

Antwan Odom (#98) and Anthony Bryant (#97) wait their turn during practice. The two linemen signed together in 2000, both at the time rated among the top D-Line prospects in the entire nation. So far there's every reason to believe that early assessment will prove true. For Alabama to have a successful season, its defense must lead the way. And it begins with Odom and Bryant.

Mark Anderson (#47) walks off. With the possible exception of wide receiver, coaches rotate players in and out of the game more on the defensive line than any other position. Right now Anderson should be Bama's first player off the bench at defensive end.

Jeremy Clark leaves the practice field. After sitting out his first season getting bigger and stronger in the weight room, Clark is ready to compete at defensive tackle. How long he holds onto the early starting role is really beside the point. Clark is set as one of the Tide's top players on the inside.

Coach Wyatt gives his troops a quick pep talk during practice. Together with Defensive Ends Coach Paul Randolph, Wyatt gives Bama a double-dose of coaching along the defensive line.

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