The biggest negative was a knee injury to freshman tailback Demetrius Goode. Although an announcement regarding the injury was expected later after a Saturday afternoon MRI, the early diagnosis was an injury to the medial collateral ligament.
Goode is a 5-10, 197-pound tailback from LaGrange,Georgia, who played last year at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.
Saban said, "No one is happy about a player getting hurt, particularly on the first day of practice. We try to practice safely, but injuries are a part of football, a part of sports." He said that Goode is going to be a fine player who has a long career ahead of him and that the injury would be corrected and Goode would go through rehabilitation.
Following Saturday's practice will be a unique practice, an open practice at Bryant-Denny Stadium beginning at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Following the practice there will be an opportunity for fans to get autographs from Crimson Tide players.
Saban said the first day was exciting and that he was pleased with the strength and conditioning of the squad. He said returning players had improved since beginning an off-season program last winter and continuing through the summer. He said it is a goal to have every player in top condition, but that all players had made progress in some area.
The coach said that mental carryover had also been good from the spring.
The first day of practice, with the raw temperature approaching 100 and the humidity making the heat index well above the century mark, provided "a tremendous opportunity for the players to overcome adversity and stay focused on the task. Some did better than others."
Saban said the newcomers brought "energy and enthusiasm" and that he was pleased with their first day. He said that almost all players being in Tuscaloosa during the summer probably helped alleviate some of their anxiety on the first day because they had opportunities to "adjust socially and mentally as well as physically" by working with returning players.
He reiterated that early practices are to emphasize player development as the coaching staff searches for players who can fill roles at various levels during the season. "Practice is to improve," he said. "There really isn't a depth chart." He said, "When we get into the season we will practice the guys who are going to play, and that has something to do with a depth chart."
Saban said, "We coach all the players and try to get all the players to improve." He said competition for jobs was part of that process of building a winning team, pointing out that a player wants to win a job based on his performance, not on the basis of his competitor not performing well.
Although it seems to state the obvious, Saban said (as he has often) that the team will be better as it has more players capable of winning and more depth in the form of players who can be played and "keep us from getting beat."
Also somewhat obvious, Saban said there is a cumulative effect in building a football team with players doing better the more they have done something. He had admiration for the players' attitude as they are learning the new systems.