Alabama Has Had Only A Few Injuries

Alabama's football team has been practicing for over three weeks and has had two scrimmages, yet for the most part the Crimson Tide is a healthy team as it winds up work on fundamentals.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban sometimes knocks the wooden lectern when he talks about injuries, but there's more than luck involved in avoiding football injuries. The Crimson Tide has had a few, but not many. Most of those who have been out with injury have been so for only a day or two. Even the exception, running back Jeramie Griffin who was lost for the year with a torn ACL in the early days of fall camp, was injured in a non-contact situation.

Following Tuesday's practice, Saban said, "We don't really have anybody who didn't practice today." He said that freshman cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and freshman tailback Trent Richardson were able to do "some practicing." Saban said that even though Richardson was in a black jersey that signifies "no contact," the tailback was "able to take all his reps and do everything full speed." Kirkpatrick had been reported hobbled by a pulled muscle. Richardson suffered a sprained shoulder in last Saturday's scrimmage. Saban said senior tailback Roy Upchurch, who had been out with a pulled muscle, "made it all the way through and did not have a problem," the coach said.

Saban was asked the secret of keeping players healthy.

He said it "isn't one thing." Much of Saban's coaching career has been spent in the NFL, and he said working in pro ball with a fewer number of players leads to establishing a practice pattern that is effective, efficient and fast without getting players hurt. He said Alabama practices in that NFL style.

He pointed out that every effort is made to keep players off the ground. Previously he has cited injuries occurring when players are down. He said Alabama practices include "thud" work, where runners are hit, not tackled.

He also noted the strength and conditioning program and gave credit to Scott Cochran, who oversees that area. "We're much stronger now," Saban said. He said strength enables players to "sustain and endure and avoid injuries."

Saban, who has said that he doesn't consider football a dangerous game, even though there are injuries, said working first team offense against first team defense enhances intensity, which is a factor in avoiding injury.

Alabama returns to the practice field Wednesday and then on Thursday begins preparation for the season-opening game. Bama will meet Virginia Tech in Atlanta's Georgia Dome on Saturday, September 5.

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