Scrimmage Next For Tide

The second in a day of 2004 "firsts" came Sunday for the Alabama football team, which had its first day of two-a-day practices. That came a day after the first day in full gear and a day before the scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium scheduled for Monday.

Although Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula continued to be satisfied with the practice work Sunday, a couple more injuries–one very serious one–added to Crimson Tide problems in the offensive line. Freshman center Antoine Caldwell suffered a broken foot in Sunday morning's practice and will be out four to six weeks after undergoing surgery Monday, Shula said. He joins freshman tackle B.J. Stabler, who had surgery on his finger late last week and who is expected to be out for "up to a few weeks."

All-in-all four offensive linemen were out of practice Sunday afternoon, and the offensive line is an area where depth is a problem. In addition to Caldwell and Stabler, back-up tackles Chris Capps and Mark Sanders are out with injuries and are not expected to participate in Monday's scrimmage.

Middle linebacker Freddie Roach, a starter last year, returned to the practice field on a limited basis Sunday. Roach had surgery to "clean up" and old knee problem late this summer. Freshman wide receiver Keith Brown, who had been outstanding in early work, was also back on a limited basis after pulling a groin muscle last week. Defensive end Chris Turner was another returning from the injured list and working out.

In addition to the offensive linemen, among those on the injured list and expected to miss the scrimmage are wide receiver Antonio Carter, wide receiver Will Roach, wide receiver Marcus McKnight, tight end Greg McLain, cornerback Eric Gray, cornerback Travis Robinson, cornerback/safety Chris James, strong safety Charlie Peprah, and defensive end Keith Saunders.

"When someone is out, it's an opportunity for someone else," Shula said, noting the work freshman Cody Davis is getting at offensive tackle and the practice time freshman Marcus Carter has gotten at strong safety.

Shula said that defensive tackle Anthony Bryant and tight end David Cavan, who returned to practice on a limited basis Saturday, were "participating in nearly 100 per cent" of Sunday's practices.

Monday's scrimmage, which is open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Shula said he expected it to be first team offense against second team defensive and second team offense against first team defense, but that there could be some one vs. one.

"After the scrimmage, we'll start to make some evaluations," Shula said. The coach said that those who are considered most likely to play will get most of the repetitions leading up to the season-opener against Utah State on September 4. But, Shula said, "the door won't be shut on others." Bama will have a second scrimmage Saturday.

"We had two pretty good practices today," Shula said Sunday. "In the afternoon I thought the defense did a little better than the offense as far as the mechanics."

Shula said he expects the linebackers to be the key to Bama's defensive success this year, and said that starters DeMeco Ryans, Juwan Garth, and Cornelius Wortham had a good week. As he has almost every day, he said the offense was led by quarterback Brodie Croyle, who he said had another "solid" day.

Sophomore Tyrone Prothro and redshirt freshman Matt Caddell, oddly the somewhat "older" wide receiver candidates, have been best at the position having to be completely revamped after graduation of five seniors last year. Shula said Prothro and Caddell continue to impress, particularly as more of the offense has been added, something of a problem for Keith Brown, D.J. Hall, Will Oakley, Marcel Stamps and Ezekial Knight–all talented, but all true freshmen. Matt Miller, a walkon junior, has also impressed Shula.

In addition to the wide receivers, Shula said that cornerback Simeon Castille and defensive tackle Justin Britt have done well for freshmen.

A highlight of Saturday's work, the first practice in full gear, had been the short yardage running game with 230-pound Tim Castille, last year's starting fullback, operating at halfback behind 250-pound LéRon McClain. That combination got another look Sunday. "We won't use them all the time, but I like it," Shula said. "It will be a part of our pacakage. But (halfback) Ray Hudson has done a good job, and we want him on the field, too. It's a good problem."


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