Photo report: Starters still starting for now

Both last spring and this fall, fans and insiders alike were predicting the possibility of several changes in the Tide starting lineup. A combination of inconsistent play by veterans last season and talented youngsters coming up prompted that assessment. <br><br>But for now at least every Bama returning starter has held onto his job.

Playing last season with a separated shoulder, Hirchel Bolden's production at cornerback was limited. He started every game but finished with only 48 tackles, 10 pass breakups and no interceptions. But off-season surgery fixed his shoulder, and so far the senior veteran has held onto his starting spot.

Called on to start during the middle of last season while Reggie Myles decided whether or not he could play within the team concept, Jones frankly had a tough year. His season high for snaps came against LSU when he was in on 76 plays, but that game was easily one of the worst defensive efforts in Alabama history. So far this fall he's still listed first string at free safety, but redshirt freshman Roman Harper is closing fast.

Despite finishing as the team's leading rusher with 881 yards, Galloway briefly lost his starting job to Santonio Beard. Coming out of spring drills the two were considered co-first string. But during most of fall camp Galloway has worked with the 1s and Beard with the 2s.

Since redshirt freshman Freddie Roach has yet to play a game for Alabama, his situation is different. But he did finish spring drills first string, while many "experts" were predicting that JUCO transfer Derrick Pope would overtake him. So far this fall Roach has played very well, and the Killen native continues to work with the first string at middle linebacker.

Despite starting three games last season, defensive end Nautyn McKay-Loescher is the least experienced member of Alabama's starting defensive line. Super-athlete Antwan Odom finished spring barely behind McKay-Loescher on the depth chart, with most practice observers saying it was only a matter of time until Odom took over as No. 1. But for now "the Chief" maintains a slight lead.

A starter for most of his career at cornerback, Gerald Dixon finished 2001 looking over his shoulder at several younger players pressing for his job. He finished last year with 56 tackles and 10 pass breakups--but no interceptions. And in fact during his three years so far at Alabama, Dixon has only a single INT to his credit. But beginning last spring "Smoke" has been much more aggressive on the practice field, and for now he's held onto his starting job.

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