Alabama Coach Mike Shula was typically closed-mouth about the situation, not mentioning Marlon Davis until going through a list of other practice notes. "He was excused for a couple of days for personal reasons, and now he's back," Shula said following the second of two Sunday workouts. Davis had not been in the morning practice.
Not only was Davis, a 6-2, 311-pound sophomore from Columbus, Georgia, back. He got plenty of work because a couple of other guards were sitting out with injuries.
"He got more reps than he expected," Shula said.
Shula didn't have an absolute final injury report immediately after practice, but indicated that many of those who were not participating Sunday afternoon would be ready to work Monday when Bama will have its first scrimmage of the fall.
Among those in orange jerseys signifying non-participation status Sunday afternoon were B.J. Stabler, who was being rested because of a sore knee. Stabler is the returning starter at right guard and the man whose place was taken by Davis in the helmets and shoulder pads evening workout. Another offensive lineman held out was Michael Johnson, a former tackle who has moved to guard in pre-season camp. Johnson had an ankle injury.
Two wide receivers were held out. Freshman Jake Jones suffered an injury in the pelvic region. Keith Brown, a returning starter, was held out for precautionary reasons after having a slight head injury. Running back Ali Sharrief was also held out with a head injury.
Shula said he thought most players would be ready to participate in the Monday scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The practice is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. CDT and will be open to the public.
The coach said, "We'll try to get reps for everyone. We have more depth to do that."
He said the format would be "about the same as we always do it." That has usually been the first offense against the second defense, the second offense against the first defense, and the third offense against the third defense.
Shula said that another player who has been missing for practically the entire pre-season camp, offensive tackle Trent Davidson, has been excused "from the 105 reporting roster." His place was taken by back-up center Morgan Garner, a redshirt freshman. A team may have only 105 on roster until classes begin. When classes begin on August 23 the squad can be expanded. Shula said the door was open for Davidson to return at that time, but didn't indicate how much of a likelihood that is.
Alabama's tight ends gathered after practice for extra receiving work. "I think today we had more drops than we'd had all week combined," Shula said. "It's a matter of concentration."
Shula thought both the Sunday morning workout in full gear and the afternoon practice were "okay. Not great." He noted that it was cooler than it has been some days.
"This morning we were in full pads and had more running," the coach said. "This afternoon was more ‘move the ball' and two-minute drill. The efficiency wasn't as good as it needs to be, although the effort was good."
Shula noted that in the "move the ball" drill there was not a great deal of offensive success. And when the offense went to two-minute drill work it continued to be poor. "But they stuck with it and eventually got it down and got it in the end zone," the coach said. Bama scored on a short yardage, though long throw across the field, pass from John Parker Wilson to Nikita Stover.
In answer to a question, Shula said that players had moved up and down the depth chart "for a variety of reasons." He said it is partly to see how players react when, for instance, they go up with the first team. There's also the practical matter of the pace being faster in practice than it is in games and in order to keep it fast sometimes fresh bodies are needed. And, he said, the team has to get used to the substitution mechanics.
He said that he can see the motivation in the seniors. "You see it every year," he said. "Those guys know it's their last time."
The Tide coach answered questions about a few players. Among them:
Wide receivers Matt Caddell and D.J. Hall were comp[eting and that both had improved in fall camp. He said that Caddell is having the best practices of his Alabama career. "We're going to need both of them," he said.
Two factors that make Kenneth Darby a great back are his power and his ability to make a quick lateral change of direction.
Jamie Christensen is the placekicker until someone beats him out, but that he was gettinggood competition from Andrew Friedman and Leigh Tiffin. "We want all our starters feeling a little competition," Shula said.
The staff struggled a bit before deciding to move Justin Britt from defensive tackle to offensive guard, and it is too bad that Britt missed most of spring work after undergoing shoulder surgery after the 2005 season. "But overall we thought it was the best thing for our football team, which is how we make decisions," Shula said. "I think he's going to make us a better football player."