Handful Of Tiders Have Been Hurt

A week or so ago Julio Jones went down the list of serious injuries he suffered during his superb freshman season. A sports hernia in the fourth game, shoulder and wrist injuries midway through the season. Still, Jones soldiered on and was Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year. He's a pre-season All-America this year.

Julio Jones was one of a handful of players on Alabama Coach Nick Saban's list of injured Crimson Tiders when Saban briefed the media following Thursday's practice. "Julio sprained his ankle a little bit," Saban said. It was no surprise that the coach added, "He hasn't missed any practice."

Saban said that another wide receiver, Marquis Maze, had missed one practice with an undisclosed injury. "He was fine today," the coach added.

Earlier in the week Saban had announced that freshman wide receiver Kenny Bell was suffering with shin splints and would miss perhaps a week of work.

Freshman cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and senior tailback Roy Upchurch were players Saban said had missed a couple of days practice with pulled muscles. They were listed day-to-day. Of Upchurch, Saban said, "It's nothing serious," and ruled out a neck problem. Upchurch had missed the end of last season with a neck injury that required surgery in the off-season. "He'll be back."

Alabama has a scrimmage scheduled for Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Saban said the injured players are "day to day. We're hopeful they'll be back and be able to scrimmage and I think in some cases they will, but we'll manage it day to day and see how they do."

Saban spent some time discussing Alabama running backs.

"I'm really, really pleased with how Mark Ingram has had a fantastic camp and Trent Richardson has had a fantastic camp and done a really good job. So has Terry Grant, so there's a lot of competition at that position. Roy's been a really good player for us and we hope to get him healthy so he can get out there and compete as well."

"I'm very pleased with the way Mark Ingram has performed throughout camp. He had a very good camp. Trent has definitely had a very good camp. If he can continue to learn and grow and mature as a football player, he's certainly a guy who can make a contribution to the program this year. And we know what Roy has done in the past and he has made a real impact in a lot of different ways on our team. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to practice the last couple of practices but he was doing fairly well prior to that. Terry Grant has done a really good job and has done a really good for us on special teams, as has Roy Upchurch.

"So I'm pleased with what those guys have been able to do and how they've progressed. I think they are guys that can be playmakers on our offense and I think it's going to be important that we can get them the ball and put them in position where they can make plays."

Regarding practice, Saban said, "I really feel that the last two days, we've sort of turned the corner. I was a little disappointed two practices ago (on Tuesday) -- not yesterday, not today – we didn't respond very well and handle the circumstances out there, the heat., didn't practice as well as we needed to, didn't get the kind of execution that we needed to get. Then, yesterday and today, I think a lot of the players responded, pushed themselves through it, especially with the idea that school started. Other things are going on with them right now that are important things in their life, but we've certainly been pleased and happy with the progress that we've been able to make in the last two practices."

Alabama will have a Friday workout prior to Saturday's scrimmage. Saban said, "Tomorrow we'll try to do a lot of polish, not try and install anything else or work on anything else. We'll spend a little bit of time working on opponents' problems, things that we don't see from our offense, things that our offense doesn't see from our defense. And also special teams things that are issues and problems. So that's been a little bit challenging for the players and I think that's probably a good thing. But tomorrow will probably be polish and having the last scrimmage that we will have, even though we may have some situational things between now and the game.

The Tide coach was asked how Saturday's scrimmage will be different than last Saturday's?

Saban said, "We'll have a little bit more move-the-field stuff, but we don't scrimmage a lot different, ever. Sometimes we change the situations that we actually scrimmage.

"We have ended every practice for the last week with some end-of-the-game or end-of-the-half situation. You either win or you lose. Whether it's two-minute situation, whether it's get the ball back for the defense, if we have a chance to go two-minute at the end of the game when we're behind, and we'll take some of those situations and practice them. Because some of them that you need practice on, those situations don't always come up in a normal scrimmage.

"For instance, we may go through the whole scrimmage and never practice goal line. So we may want to scrimmage goal line. Or we may go through the whole scrimmage and never really ever get a field position where we've got to come out from the goal line. We may do a get the ball back, four minute type situation where one team has to stop them, call timeouts, we get the ball — similar to the Arkansas game a few years ago — and go two-minute and try to score to win the game.

"So there'll be some of those type situations that go with the regular move-the-field regular game situations. The staff organization and communication will probably be a little bit more game specific in this particular scrimmage. Just so that we're all used to what our assignments and roles are at least for a portion of the scrimmage. I

" think from a personnel standpoint there's always going to be a little different emphasis on who we need to look at, how many plays they're going to get, how many reps we're going to give them. And that hasn't been decided on yet."

With the start of classes on Wednesday, Alabama was able to expand its roster from the NCAA-mandated limit of 105 for fall camp. Saban said, "We've obviously had an addition, with school starting, of 20-25 new players. Kellen Williams, a scholarship player who was not cleared medically to start fall camp, is probably still several weeks away from full go, but able to do some functional things out there. And we have a lot of other walk-ons, quite a few that have been in the program before, and this will definitely help our ability to prepare for games down the road with the additional depth and numbers that it gives us."

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