Five days away from Alabama v. LSU in Bryant-Denny Stadium, an update on a few personnel and injury developments from today:
Alabama tailback Eddie Lacy was somewhat limited again in practice today as he is still recovering from a turf toe injury suffered earlier in the season. Turf toe is actually an inflammation of the tendons connecting the foot and the big toe, and for athletes it is a lingering injury that is notoriously difficult to overcome. Lacy has taken a reduced role in recent weeks and undoubtedly was relieved to have the bye week, but this injury may not be in the rear view mirror just yet. He will play this Saturday, but throughout the week there is no real reason to tax the foot any more than necessary, so expect him to have a very light week in preparation of the Bayou Bengals. Consider this more of a planned management program than a setback.
Alfred McCullough took snaps again today at right guard, where he replaced starter Anthony Steen against Tennessee while Steen was held out for precautionary reasons relating to a concussion he sustained against Ole Miss. Steen is expected to start this Saturday night, but with the season-ending injuries to the Kouandjio brothers McCullough is now the back-up at four of the line positions (and perhaps even all five). Expect him to get snaps all across the line this week given how he may be called on this weekend and for the remainder of the year.
Alex Watkins was a bit of a pleasant surprise this afternoon as he was not wearing a black no-contact jersey after sporting it all of last week. Admittedly, however, the absence of the black jersey has been a poor indicator for gameday availability this season, so that may in fact mean very little. He is wearing an arm cast, and his availability for this Saturday is somewhat tricky. Pain wouldn't be an issue because he would be given a pre-game injection, and obviously it doesn't affect his overall movement, but there is a legitimate question as to how the reduced strength in the arm would impact his on-field performance and playing with a slight fracture also brings about the concern of risking a far more serious break that would likely sideline him for the rest of the season. Having Watkins would be an unexpected bonus, but in the end it will come down to whether or not the medical staff signs off on him and whether or not the coaching staff thinks he can be effective with the weakened arm.
And speaking of injuries, as an aside Trent Richardson addressed the injuries that derailed his 2010 campaign, noting today that he played the second half last season with a torn abdominal muscle and a slight MCL tear. His effectiveness was greatly reduced down the stretch last year, but in hindsight it is impressive that he was even on the field in the first place. Obviously both injuries have healed since then and presumably Richardson is as healthy as could reasonably be expected at this point in the season, but news like this certainly underscores the type of injuries that players so frequently fight through to get on the field.
Finally, in Baton Rouge, Les Miles dispelled what little uncertainty was left regarding the K-2 Three by stating in sum and substance in his weekly Monday press conference that all three players suspended for the Auburn game for failed drug tests would be playing against Alabama. He didn't expressly say that to be precise, instead saying that no players would be withheld from this game, but that is the obvious implication. No one really expected any of those three players to be missing in action this Saturday night, but in any event Miles removed any doubt this afternoon.