"I feel good," he said. "Once you get past that first week of swelling and soreness you go on a down-slope and I think I've just started that. The last couple of days of rehab has been good."
Brodie Croyle returned to practice as a spectator on Tuesday riding around the field on a golf cart and using crutches to move around. He was in better spirits than he's been in since the injury took place on September 18.
"It was just fun to get out of the house and ride around and be around it again," he said. "I'm going to go out there in a little while but it's fun seeing those guys out there working hard. It just seems like different attitude out there compared to last year after we had lost a game. I think we're a different team out there."
"I'm not much of a coaching type," he said. "I'll be there if they need me. I'll do whatever."
It's hard to find much of anything positive that came from the play where Croyle was injured in the third quarter against Division I-AA Western Carolina, but looking back on it Croyle came up with one thing.
"Hopefully I can't tear (my ACL) again now," he said. "I guess that's one good way of looking at it."
"Nobody hit me," he said, talking about the play. "Everybody thought I got clobbered or whatever. I was really just trying to plant and dive forward so I wouldn't get hit, I guess I didn't get hit, but it happened anyway."
Even though he knew his junior season was over, Croyle crutched up to a raised podium in the media room after the game and faced questions. He said the "sick feeling" he got (which was undoubtedly worse than the combined sick feelings of all the Bama fans with the news), kicked in right as he hit the ground in the play he was injured and lasted for a while.
"There isn't anybody that can get you out of that," he said. "It's just you dealing with it, you getting over it and coming to a peace with yourself. It takes longer for some people – shorter for some people. You're definitely going to go through it.
"That might have been the maddest I've been in a long time. Laying there on the field and then off the field them reassuring me that I did it even though I knew I did it."
Croyle said watching the Alabama-Arkansas game on television last Saturday made him more excitable than if he'd been there in person. He said it was tough watching the game from home with teammate Antonio Carter.
"It's a different angle, that's for sure. I haven't watched an Alabama game on TV in I can't remember when," Croyle said. "It was pretty tough knowing I couldn't have anything to do with the outcome. But they played hard and we'll get a lot better. We're still going to win a lot of ball games.
"Me and A.C. were kind of yelling at the TV, I was sitting up. I hadn't sat up in a week before then. It's different. I see why we get yelled at so much all the time."
Croyle said not being in meetings or at practice throughout the week kept him guessing during the game.
"I didn't know the game plan all week and I was trying to ask A.C. what we were fixing to run, what we had out of that formation," he said. "We did a lot of good things and Marc's just going to get better and better."
The player whose season wouldn't be ended a year ago even with a painstaking shoulder injury that required surgery after the season, said there's been a grieving process to the season-ending ACL tear.
"You go through the mad stages, then you go through the grief stage then you just have to deal with it," he said. "I think I'm already to the point where I'm just like, ‘this isn't the way I planned it but it happened this way and I'm going to have to deal with it'. One more bump in the road, but I've got one more year."
Croyle knew the first week would be the most difficult. He tore his left ACL in his senior season of high school football.
"It's good now that I'm kind of getting over that hump a little bit. When I first did it, that first week I was dreading it because I knew what was coming," he said. "It's one of those things you've got to take in stride. You can't sit around at take any time off, you've got to get going."
The rehabilitation on his knee started Sunday he said, if slowly in the beginning.
"We started bending it, lifting it, doing all the motions," Croyle said. "It might be a while before I'm doing weights and squatting and all that, but as far as rehab, we're already back on the bands just trying to get movement back into it and strength. It's a never-ending processs."
Croyle has received an outpouring of support since his season ended, from an old number 12 and even from across enemy lines.
"I haven't been in my locker yet to go check it out but (equipment manager) Tank (Conerly) said I had probably about 100-150 things in there. I appreciate everybody that sent them."
"I've talked to him a couple of times because he tore his ACL," Croyle said. "As an athlete you feel for the guys that it happens to. You know what they're going to. It's no longer a rivalry when that happens."
"There's been a bunch of people call," he said. "A bunch of people I've played with since I've been here. I actually talked to (Joe Namath) this morning. He called and wished me well and told me I can still go on to bigger and better things. Any times a legend calls and tells you that it makes you feel better."
Croyle said he plans to be on the sidelines Saturday when Alabama hosts South Carolina, but he will probably not make any more road trips, since the NCAA only allows 70 players to make the trip. "We need everybody we can travel," he said. "It will probably be easier (than watching on TV) out there on the field."
Croyle said he'd be off crutches within a week, and that he expects to be back on the field for spring practice, 2005.
"It will be good to get back there and get moving around and get back a feel of the offense. I can't wait to see how good those young guys have gotten by then. They were making a lot of plays for me at the start of the year and we're expecting bigger things next year."