Alabama Football: Spring Practice Update, April 16

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Oh noes! We won’t get to see Derrick Henry on A-Day! What does it mean? And what went down on the practice field today?

Sorry, folks, it’s true: Derrick Henry fractured his fibula, and has undergone surgery, which was said to be successful. A broken leg is a serious injury, of course, but its timing was nearly perfect, as it was late enough to allow Henry to participate in most spring drills, yet early enough to allow a full recovery by August or even earlier. The injury leaves Alabama with only two scholarshipped running backs who are cleared for contact, and may result in significant A-Day action for a walk-on. I sincerely doubt Coach Saban wants to run T.J. Yeldon out there for 30 carries in a scrimmage.

In better injury news, John Fulton ran with the defensive backs in individual drills for the first time this spring, although he did not participate in group drills. Although Fulton is not expected to play in the A-Day game, he is all but fully healthy.

Only Kevin Norwood and Trey DePriest spent the practice period on stationary bikes. Dee Hart, Jalston Fowler, DeAndrew White and C.J. Mosley wore black but participated in drills. Alec Morris was hobbling with a heavily taped right foot, but also participated in drills.

Leon Brown will likely have a real chance to compete for the right tackle spot in August if he has a good summer, but it appears Austin Shephard will get the start with the first-team offense on Saturday. He joins four guys on the line whose positions seem to be unambiguously won: left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, left guard Arie Kouandjio, center Ryan Kelly and right guard Anthony Steen. Observers say the offensive line, expected by many to be Alabama’s biggest problem unit this fall, is rounding into shape nicely. Let opponents beware: if this group of skill players is working behind a solid OL, they will light up scoreboards. Bama is so deep at running back and wideout that it will be scant comfort to opponents when the Tide goes to subs at those positions.

Vinnie Sunseri may be a surprise starter at safety on Saturday with the first-string defense. Your truly counts himself among the surprised, but it shouldn’t be too big a shock, as Sunseri is probably the most experienced returning safety. His off-season weight loss may have been just what the doctor ordered.

Following another strong scrimmage performance, it seems likely that Blake Sims will start at quarterback with the second unit, and he won’t be hurting for receivers to throw to. He will mostly likely be working behind Brandon Greene, Kellen Williams, Chad Lindsay, Isaac Luatua and Leon Brown.

A wealthier coaching staff oversaw the practice today.

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