Coming on strong at right guard, Britt had moved to the first unit last week while Danny Lindsey got some snaps at center. That was before suffering a shoulder injury over the weekend. Described as a dislocated shoulder, Britt's injury could be helped by rehab or could eventually require surgery. The latter would do some serious shaking up to the offensive line and Coach Tommy Tuberville said that he took a long look at the offensive line during Thursday's two hour practice back on the practice fields.
"I watched the offensive line," Tuberville said. "We tried to look at another different combination up front. We put Jonathan Palmer in Ben Grubbs' position at left guard. We put him at first team to give him a shot. There is a lot of competition at that position. Hopefully tomorrow we can get King Dunlap back. He didn't practice today because of a hamstring. We're just looking at every combination we can going into the season to see which one is the best."
With Britt out of action sophomore Tim Duckworth got the majority of the snaps with the second-team offensive line and looks to be more at home on the interior. Palmer could also play the right side and Thomas Anderson is a possibility as well.
Thursday's practice was one that Tuberville had been looking for. With temperatures in the upper 80's and the humidity high, the Tigers went through two hours in full pads that featured some early running. Instead of running at the end of the practice Tuberville decided to run the players following the special teams portion of practice just to get them used to playing tired.
"We used to do that at Miami and it's something I thought we needed," Tuberville said. "I'm more of a run at the end of practice, kind of a fourth quarter deal. I decided, because of the weather, we're having guys out there really not having to concentrate more than they're going to have to when they're hot. We decided to push them and get them to a situation where they're pretty much gassed at the beginning and try to regain their composure and have to think as they're going through practice."
Following the running the teams broke into positions for learning and drills before coming together for an inside running drill and one-on-one with the backs and receivers. Wide receiver Maurice Anderson continues to be impressive in both the drills and team action as he came up with several big catches on the day. The biggest game on a slant near the goal line in red zone offense. Tuberville said that was something they really wanted to concentrate on in Thursday's practice.
"We did a lot of what we can red zone work with our offense and defense," Tuberville said. "We're going to do some more tomorrow live in the scrimmage. It's something we saw last week that we need to work on quite a bit."
Thursday was the day that the number of players goes from 105 to over 125 on the practice field. Among those out for the first time on Thursday was scholarship linebacker Courtney Harden. Headed for a redshirt because of a knee injury suffered in high school, Harden said that he was glad to finally be on the field with his teammates after watching from the sidelines the last few days.
"It felt real good," Harden said. "I have been waiting for so long just to get out there and see what everybody is talking about with the game speed. It's a big difference trying to make the adjustment from high school to college. I'll make it, but I just have to keep rehabbing on my knee and I should be all right."
Sophomore John Vaughn continues to put his stamp on the field goal kicking job with another perfect day of kicking on Thursday, 5-5 with a long of 42. Senior Philip Yost missed a 30-yard attempt, but made the other four for a solid day as well.
The Tigers will return to practice on Friday afternoon at 4:30 with a scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Tuberville said that because of the numbers of players on the field Thursday would be a tryout for many that hope to make the roster in the fall.
"This is basically the cut line," Tuberville said. "If they're going to make it they'll have to make it tomorrow. Everybody will get a shot. We'll do about the same thing we did last week expect more short yardage scrimmage and more goal line scrimmage. We'll add that into the plan, plus two-minute at the end."
Saying he's looking for the top 70 players on the team, Tuberville said that veterans would be held out if they weren't 100 percent. That means it's doubtful that Carlos Rogers, Bret Eddins or Jay Ratliff will log any scrimmage action on defense because of minor injuries. Offensively, while they are healthy, don't expect to see Carnell Williams or Ronnie Brown on Friday said Tuberville. At least that's what he hopes is the final decision made by running backs Coach Eddie Gran.
"I told Eddie Gran he could practice them as long as they don't get hurt," Tuberville said. "If they get hurt it's his job. He'll have to sleep on that tonight."