Alabama returned to the practice fields today for the continuation of two-a-days. Yesterday saw the first off day of fall camp, but with somewhat cooler temperatures finally returning after a scorching heat wave, the fall practice grind returned to Tuscaloosa this morning.
The biggest positive of camp to date remains the continued injury luck. DeMarcus Milliner was reported as the only injured player from the scrimmage on Saturday, but he returned to the practice fields today with some bandaging on his lacerated chin, and no other injuries of note were apparent. There are a few minor injuries to a handful of players, but to date Alabama has been fortunate enough to avoid the kind of serious camp injuries that could have a major negative impact on the upcoming season.
Dont'a Hightower provided a bit more insight into his injury in the afternoon media session with reporters. According to Hightower, he believes he injured his left hand on the first day of fall camp, and at the time he believed it was just a bruise. As the pain and the swelling lingered, though, he chose to have it examined further and it was at that point that an x-ray revealed a fracture. He chose surgery because the recovery time would be quicker by inserting hardware, and now he expects the club he has been wearing to be removed in the near future. As has been expected all along, look for Hightower to be healthy and club-free come the season opener against Kent State.
Duron Carter remained absent from both practice sessions today, as his time in academic purgatory continues into its third week. As has been the case all along there is still no definite timetable as to when a decision will be made, but clearly there is hope that a positive decision will come down sometime this week. If the Carter melodrama enters a fourth week, however, that is likely a sign that bad news is imminent. As always, hope for the best.
The first-team offensive line remain unchanged in the aftermath of the first scrimmage, a telling indicator that while the staff was not overly pleased with the play of the line in the running game, at this point in time they do not feel it necessary to re-shuffle the first-team unit. Both coaches and players alike have spoken highly of true freshman Cyrus Kouandjio, and it seems relatively clear that he is making a legitimate push for playing time. As has been previously written in this piece, however, regardless of raw talent and potential it's a serious concern to have a true freshman playing at left tackle, especially when there is a viable alternative, and it's understandable as to why the staff would be hesitant to make such a move. If the struggles of the interior line continue, though, the staff's hand may be forced.
Quinton Dial spent some time working with the first-team defensive line during the media viewing period this morning. Dial looks physically impressive and has seemingly made strides in both conditioning and consistency after enrolling early at UA and participating in spring practice. He might not be a starter at this point, but by all accounts he is seriously pushing Ed Stinson for the starting job at defensive end, and in any event looks to be no worse than third in the rotation at defensive end. Furthermore, Dial has the physical build that would allow him to be an every-down player -- playing at end in the base 3-4 while moving inside when 'Bama goes to the four-man front -- and that only makes him more of a valuable commodity. Either way, starter or not, expect Dial to be a key contributor to the defensive line this season.
Christion Jones and Blake Sims split time at tailback today. Sims saw time at tailback in the morning, while Jones worked out with the wide receivers, and they reversed roles this evening with Sims taking reps at quarterback and with Jones returning to tailback. And speaking of Jones, he may very well still end up getting a redshirt, but he has impressed many during fall camp and has been mentioned far more than anyone had anticipated. All we have to date are the early returns, of course, but for the time being it seems like Jones may be a bit of an under-the-radar recruiting steal out of Minor High School.
In other quick hitters, Isaac Luatua is practicing without limitation despite sporting a large club on his left hand. Keep your eye on Trent Richardson moving forward; he's participating fully, but he had his left calf and foot wrapped heavily in the scrimmage on Saturday to go along with an absolute massive tape-job on his left hamstring. Death, taxes, and high praise for DeAndrew White. Both Anthony Orr and William Ming worked out at Sam linebacker this morning. Brian Vogler and Alex Watkins returned to practice today after being held out of the scrimmage on Saturday. Ryan Kelly also returned to practice today after missing the past week with a concussion.
Alabama will return to the practice fields tomorrow afternoon.