Pennington returns to practice

He had done some light throwing before practice the previous week, but Tuesday was the first time that Spencer Pennington had dressed out in pads for practice since he was injured.

"It was good to get out here and work on some of the simple things and have fun doing it," Pennington said, following Tuesday's workout.

Pennington injured his right, throwing shoulder in the second half against Georgia. He had started the game and led his team to a first-half touchdown, but a hard blow on a sack attempt dislocated the joint. Third-string quarterback Brandon Avalos finished that game, also handling the following week's contest against Southern Miss. Versus Ole Miss and Tennessee, starter Brodie Croyle (who's nursing an injured shoulder of his own) took every snap.

At the time of his injury many assumed Pennington's season was finished, but the sophomore quarterback recently received good news. Surgery is not indicated, which means he can play again as soon as the joint is ready.

"There's some pain," Pennington admitted. "But today compared to three and a half weeks ago is like night and day. (The pain) is getting better every day. If it keeps progressing like this, I hope in two weeks I'll be fine."

Spencer Pennington rolls out looking to pass. (Barry Fikes photo)

Two weeks isn't an arbitrary number. Alabama has no game scheduled this Saturday but returns to action November 8 versus the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville.

"We're definitely thinking Mississippi State," Pennington said. "I'm looking forward to it. I'm pretty much determined that I'm going to be ready to play."

Tide Head Coach Mike Shula was glad to see Pennington back at practice. "It's going to be interesting to see if he's going to be ready, but he's a lot further on than anybody thought," Shula said.

Fans know about some of the demands on college players. Classes combined with meeting and practice time keep the athletes extremely busy. But for an injured player the schedule is even tougher.

Pennington explained, "Every morning I get up here (to the Football Complex) at 6:30. (Head Tide Trainer) Rodney Brown and I work on iso exercises and stimulation. We use pulley-ropes to get some movement back in it and strengthen the tendons around the AC joint."

Pennington feels well enough to throw in practice, which is good news. But game day action will tell the tale. "It'll probably wait till his first hit in a game," Shula acknowledged, "but that's a question for the doctors and trainers. I haven't talked to them seriously about him yet."

"That'll be the true test," Pennington agreed. "You can't do anything (in practice) to simulate a live game. Once I take a hit on the shoulder, we'll know from there. We'll know how it's going to be. But until then we won't know."

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