Caldwell Returns

Alabama was on the practice field for the first day of game preparation (coinciding with the first day of classes Wednesday) and Antoine Caldwell, the redshirted freshman offensive guard, was back at practice after having been out with a sprained knee.

Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said, "Antoine looked pretty good. He needs to continue his treatment. He'll probably tell you he's 100 per cent."

Antoine Caldwell, 6-3, 280, said, "I'm 100 per cent; good to go. It felt good. I could have been back earlier, but we didn't want to take a chance. I was flying around out there."

Caldwell had sprained his knee in the first scrimmage of fall practice.

The Tide was out for about two hours in helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts.

Shula said, "I thought it was a pretty good practice for the first day of school; coming back out here on the first day of school is a lot, especially for the new guys."

Shula said that Caldwell would be at left guard and that Mark Sanders and true freshman Marlon Davis would be at right guard. "And we need to get B.J. Stabler back (at right guard), too," Shula said. Stabler is out for another few weeks with a knee injury.

Shula noted that offensive tackle Cody Davis is back "and fighting through pain." The coach said that the most frustrating thing about fall work had been a young line losing Caldwell, Davis and Stabler for extended practice time. Shula said the offensive line had made progress, but would have been even further along without those injuries.

The defensive backfield has also been hit with injuries with starting safety Roman Harper, starting left cornerback Ramzee Robinson, and back-up cornerback Eric Gray still in orange jerseys. Shula admitted he worried "a little bit about the chemistry, particularly with Roman being the guy who calls the signals." He said he is also concerned about them staying in good condition because even though they are working out they cannot emulate the intensity of how hard each game play is.

Shula welcomed five additional players to the original reporting class and said there would be more later. After classes begin, there is no squad limit size. Those added to the reporting roster of 105 are offensive tackle Layne Rinks, cornerback Trent Dean, cornerback Forress Rayford, tight end Patrick Burch, and cornerback Courtney Moore.

"We can use the numbers, especially on the scout teams," Shula said.

Scout teams were arranged and about 50 per cent of the new freshmen were disappointed to find out they are on the scout team. But Shula thinks at least 12 freshmen will play…including, possibly, some of those who are initially on the scout team.

He noted that some players will be on the scout team in offense/defense work, but will also work with special teams. He said he told the players assigned to scout team work that they have important jobs, and also held out hope that they could move up during the season. Star wide receiver Tyrone Prothro did that in Shula's first year as head coach in 2003.

He said after examining the tapes of Tuesday's scrimmage that converted quarterback Jimmy Johns had performed well at running back. "All the young backs did well," Shula said. He also said that tight end Nick Walker had a big day and that it would have been a really big day if Walker hadn't dropped one pass. He liked the play of Chris Keys, the freshman safety who had missed work earlier with a concussion.

Alabama will practice again Thursday and Friday, take Saturday off, then begin a normal game week with a Sunday workout, Monday off day, and practices next Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Alabama opens the season a week from Saturday, on September 3, when the Crimson Tide hosts MTSU at 6 p.m. CDT at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The game is sold out, but will be available on a Pay-Per-View basis on Alabama cable systems and satellite receivers.

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