Tide Loses Griffin To Knee Injury

Alabama Coach Nick Saban has a good sense of humor, and he could poke a little fun at Crimson Tide outside linebackers coach Sal Sunseri Thursday. Sunseri was on crutches during drills. "We were wondering if we could put him on IR (injured reserve, an NFL category) so we can get a roster spot and get someone else in here," Saban joked.

The Alabama head coach said he had offered the use of a golf cart to Sunseri. "He chose to show a little mental toughness," Saban said. "It didn't seem to affect his performance." The first-year Bama assistant is a fiery, vocal coach.

Sunseri has a cartilage problem in his knee and Saban said it needs arthroscopic treatment.

On a more serious note (to everyone but Sunseri, anyway) is that the Crimson Tide football team sustained its first major injury of fall camp. Sophomore running back Jeramie Griffin has suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He will undergo surgery and miss the 2009 season.

Saban said Griffin suffered the non-contact injury in Tuesday's second practice when the team was in the indoor practice facility. "I don't think the turf had anything to do with it," Saban said. "It's just one of those things. It's too bad."

The 6-2, 224-pound Griffin of Batesville, Miss., played in two games as a freshman last year. He had six carries for 39 yards and caught one pass for nine yards.

Otherwise, Saban seems pleased with practice. Bama has been in practice for just over a week and in full gear since Monday. The Tide was scheduled for a Thursday evening workout, the second of three two-a-day opportunities in the fall. Bama will have its first scrimmage Saturday. The scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium will be closed to the public.

Bama is working towards a season-opening game on Sept. 5 against Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Thus far, though, Saban said, the Tide has not put in its game plan. And that will be evident in the scrimmage.

"We want the players to play what we have been practicing," Saban said. "That's our offense and our defense. We want to evaluate the players based on what we do. If we get too complicated, it could affect our ability to evaluate."

The first scrimmage will go a long way in determining "which players we are going to invest our time in and coach," he said. Saban added, "It's important to get people in the right places."

Saban said the Tide has been "working through" practice and said he is "pleased with the progress." He said younger players are benefiting from good leadership from the older players, who are sending the message, "Match my intensity." He said a large number of players are focused "on the process to be better" and have a "vision of what each can do to contribute."

Saban said conditions are "tough for everyone," and the teams that manage those conditions are the ones that will be successful.

The Tide coach talked at length about leadership coming from the players and the good leadership the 2008 team had with the likes of seniors Rashad Johnson, Antoine Caldwell, John Parker Wilson, Bobby Greenwood, and Travis McCall. He added that leadership doesn't come just from seniors. He said leadership involves having those who "have the ability to affect" members of their groups, their units, and/or the team as a whole.

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