"The practice today was better than yesterday," said Alabama Coach Mike Shula following a two-hour practice in full gear Wednesday. "Thursday we'll finish up and do a little stuff on Ole Miss. We'll go over a few areas, such as plus territory work, then give the guys off Friday and Saturday and be back Sunday."
Alabama, 5-0 and ranked seventh in the nation, is open this weekend. The Tide next plays at Ole Miss on Saturday, October 15. Gametime will either be 11 a.m. CDT (CBS) or 6:15 p.m. (ESPN2). Mississippi plays The Citadel this week.
Alabama suffered one injury Wednesday. Freshman safety Cory Reamer, who has played primarily on special teams, injured a knee. There was no word on the severity of the injury.
Reamer came in for some recognition last week when he was called for a block in the back, negating a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown by Tyrone Prothro. The call against Reamer is considered to have been an incorrect one.
Shula said that for the second consecutive day much of the work went to "the younger guys and it was much better. It was kind of sloppy Tuesday. I think after they watched the tape of Tuesday's practice they were in a better groove today."
Among the young players Shula has been impressed with is true freshman cornerback Chris Rogers of Lakeland, Florida. Rogers, who appears to be headed for a redshirt season, had two interceptions in Wednesday's work. "He is a hard worker who does a lot on his own," Shula said.
While the players are getting two days off, the coaching staff will get one day off. On Thursday and Friday nights most of the staff will be out looking at high school football games and the prospects playing in them. "Everyone will be off Saturday," Shula said.
Junior wide receiver Tyrone Prothro, who had a season-ending broken leg in last Saturday's 31-3 win over Florida, remains in DCH Regional Medical Center. Dr. Les Fowler performed surgery on the leg Saturday night. Shula said Prothro should be released Thursday.
Although there has been no particular emphasis on punt and kickoff return replacements for Prothro, Shula pointed out that others have been working in those areas throughout the year. "Prothro has been the man, but a lot of guys have been getting reps," Shula said, naming wide receivers D.J. Hall, Matt Caddell, Brandon Brooks, and Keith Brown. "And there may be some others we look at," the coach said.
Shula said the primary criteria for a punt return man is someone who will catch the ball, make good decisions, and has the ability to make defenders miss him.