Shuffling up front

There has been no official word yet, but Coach Nick Saban said Wednesday are thinking that center Seth McKinney is "probably out for the year." That means some shuffling along the offensive line, with Rex Hadnot moving from right guard to center and Alonzo Ephraim moving into the starting lineup. And both guys say they're ready for their new assignment.

"What got me into the league is being versatile," Hadnot said Wednesday.

It helps that both Hadnot and Ephraim have experience at both positions. And it's not like Hadnot hasn't gotten work at center.

Just flash back to training camp when the Dolphins worked with both McKinney and Hadnot as the first-time centers before eventually settling on a starting five of Damion McIntosh, Jeno James, McKinney, Hadnot and Vernon Carey.

As for Ephraim becoming a starter, this also isn't something new for him. He started two games at guard for the Eagles last season, which was his second with Philadelphia.

He had originally signed with the Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2003.

"I'm not really excited; I'm just doing my job," Ephraim said. "I want to capitalize on my opportunity."

The offensive line has played much better of late after a really difficult start to the season, and there shouldn't be a major concern about a drop-off now that McKinney is gone.

The truth is that Hadnot probably is a better player at center than McKinney, and Ephraim can get the job done at right guard.

"We're going to miss him," quarterback Gus Frerotte said about McKinney. "But Rex will do a fine job and we're not going to miss a beat."

Saban was asked on Wednesday which parts of the offensive line had impressed him the most this season. He didn't answer that specific question, but did say he was pleased with the group's performance.

"I think the chemistry of the group has been good. In most instances, the consistency has been good," Saban said. "They've worked extremely hard and Coach Hud (Hudson Houck) has done a tremendous job with them. They're playing with a lot more confidence right now."

And that confidence remains, even with one of the starters out of commission.


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