Alabama sophomore offensive lineman Mike Johnson (6-6, 298) of Pensacola, Fla., was asked following Monday's practice if he was "a natural guard or a natural tackle?"
"I'm just an offensive lineman," he said. "I'll do anything I'm needed to do to get on the field."
He said that his best position may be tackle, where athletic ability is necessary to "help us get to the outside."
Most Crimson Tide observers think in terms of the tackle being able to protect on pass plays, in part because of critical quarterback sacks allowed in recent years. "We've taken some blame the past few years," Johnson agreed.
Although Alabama lists nine returning starters on offense, one of those starters in 2006 is senior Chris Capps, who was at right tackle last year. In the spring Capps was limited because of a knee injury suffered late last year.
"Chris being injured in the spring gave a couple of us an opportunity at right tackle," Johnson said. "B.J. Stabler and I got a lot of work there."
Although Alabama doesn't announce (or even have) an official depth chart at this early point in fall camp, Capps has been seen working at left tackle behind Andre Smith and Johnson working with the first unit at left tackle.
"I think I've found a home," Johnson said. "The competition at right tackle has made us all try to get better."
Johnson played 132 snaps in 13 games last year, including having four knockdown blocks against Louisiana. He was in on a season-high 32 plays in the Independence Bowl game against Oklahoma State.
"I was talking to Coach Pendry (Offensive Line Coach Joe Pendry) last winter and he said he thought I'd be moving back to tackle," Johnson said.
Johnson said that pre-season camp "is going pretty good. We get more and more familiar with the offense and with each other each day and we're learning our assignments."
He said the heat, which approaches 100 each day and has a heat index of well over 100, "isn't something we're not used to. It's just more of the same."
Johnson is pleased with his position coach. "Coach Pendry is a big help," Johnson said. "He could coach any position on the field. He knows more football than anyone out there...anyone but Coach Saban, that is."
Johnson thinks Alabama's offense can be very good. He has been watching wide receivers D.J. Hall of Fort Walton Beach,Fla., and Keith Brown of Pensacola since high school. He likes the corps of fleet running backs. "And with John Parker Wilson at the helm, anything is possible."