Tide Getting Healthier

The final round of physical preparation, and the final round of player health updates from Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula for the week came Thursday in Alabama's hour and 45-minute practice in shorts and shoulder pads.

Alabama (1-0) plays Vanderbilt (0-1) in its Southeastern Conference opener on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

"I thought practice went pretty good actually," Shula said. "Guys were moving around well. We didn't have quite as many repeats as we did last week. We know we're going to have to play our best ballgame to go beat these guys because they're mentally prepared, they're coming off a loss and this is the SEC."

Shula said running back Kenneth Darby, who had a sub-par game last week at least in part due to a hip pointer suffered in the first quarter, has "gotten better each day."

"I think he looked good today," he said. "Is he 100 per cent, I don't even think he knows that, but he's looked pretty good this week and we'll see."

The team is looking remarkably healthy after one game, and hoping to get starting placekicker Jamie Christensen and receiver D.J. Hall healthy enough to play on Saturday. Shula said it would be a game time decision on Christensen, but that he was "actually doing better. We don't know for sure. He kicked yesterday and wasn't too sore at all. Again, that will be game time, and we'll find out how he is."

Shula expected Hall to play. "He's practiced all week so usually when a guy does that it's a good sign," he said. Safety Justin Woodall has also practiced all week, and could play special teams on Saturday.

Glen Coffee could return to practice as early as next week, Shula said, "There's a possible chance, an outside chance he could play next week."

Shula said Thursday that Simeon Castille would start out as the punt returner, and the true freshman Javier Arenas would also probably get some opportunities. Tim Castille, Terrence Jones and Jeffrey Dukes were named captains for Saturday's game.

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