Add the latest round of optimistic Duron Carter rumors to the existing ash heap of erroneous Duron Carter rumors. Many had speculated that Carter had been cleared academically over the weekend and would participate in the practice session today, but 'Bama returned to the practice fields this afternoon without Carter. Apparently three weeks has been an insufficient amount of time to correct the supposed clerical error at issue.
Nick Saban reiterated in his post-practice press conference that there is still time for Carter to qualify academically, but while that is technically true the pessimism is simply permeating at this point. Classes begin tomorrow at UA, and the drop-dead date here is August 31st, which is the last day at UA to register or add a course. If Carter is not admitted by the 31st then he won't be here until next January at the earliest (if at all). Saban referenced making a decision "sometime next week" on Danny Woodson, Jr., and while he never explicitly stated such it's clear that the plan here is to wait until late next week, if necessary, on Carter and then have Woodson enroll if Carter is not qualified and enrolled by the 31st.
Either way, I'm afraid to say that this is somewhat of a lost cause at this point. Having missed all of fall camp, there can be no realistic expectation of Carter making much of a consistent, meaningful contribution in the early stages of the season. Hopefully he can qualify in the week ahead and make a positive impact later in the season, but having the time to acclimate to the offense and get reps in this system is simply not a luxury he has at the moment, and accordingly that will negatively impact his performance when, or if, he is cleared.
Carter notwithstanding, fortunately the good injury luck continues. Dre Kirkpatrick, Arie Kouandjio, and Brandon Ivory all returned to practice today after missing the scrimmage this past Saturday, and Trent Richardson looked to have less tape on his left leg than he has in recent weeks. Dont'a Hightower is no longer wearing a protective wrap on his left hand, and Eddie Lacy no longer has the bulky brace over his right shoulder. The obvious caveat in football is that you are only as healthy as the next snap, but through three weeks of fall camp injury fortunes have been exceedingly encouraging.
The offensive line continues to hold steady with the first team consisting of Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, William Vlachos, Anthony Steen, and D.J. Fluker. The first team offensive line has been closely watched to see if there were any changes after the second scrimmage, but none we apparent today in the media viewing portion. Clearly Cyrus Kouandjio is only going to get better from here, so struggles on the interior line could potentially lead to Barrett Jones going back to guard at some point during the season, but for the time being it looks like the Jones-Warmack-Vlachos-Steen-Fluker grouping will be the starting offensive line against Kent State.
In any event, at this juncture fall camp is largely starting to wind down. As mentioned previously, classes will begin at UA tomorrow and preparations for Kent State are just around the corner. Saban mentioned that there were still a few opponent-specific things that 'Bama intends to work on in the coming days, but Kent State preparations are expected to begin this Friday. If any player intends to make a late surge in fall camp, time is running out.
'Bama returns to the practice fields tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 central.