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The Jumbo Package | 04.16.14

Your daily dose of Crimson Tide news and notes.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

Watch Alabama's offensive linemen get one of their final chances to impress at spring practice |

Though there's more certainty now than there was at the start of spring football, the same can't be said for this year's edition. Senior Leon Brown appears to have settled in at right guard and the three returning starters look like they'll be manning their same spots, but the opening at left tackle continues to evolve.

It's a two-man race between third-year sophomore Brandon Greene and freshman Cam Robinson, both of whom received repetitions with the first team at practice Tuesday. Greene has the edge in experience, but he's coming off a season in which he lined up exclusively at tight end. Robinson, a five-star prospect, would follow in footsteps of Andre Smith if he were able to land the starting job. Perhaps we'll learn more about the battle when A-Day rosters are unveiled Thursday.

What do you guys think?  How are the big guys looking?

Alabama Crimson Tide's O.J. Howard looks to fulfill his potential - ESPN

As Howard enters his second spring with Alabama, there’s a new sense of confidence. He’s no longer scared to make a mistake. He knows what he’s supposed to do, and he knows the expectations that the staff has for him. The stats from the first two scrimmages haven’t been a good reflection, but he believes he’s playing faster this spring.

"Last spring, I came in early," Howard said. "I was a new guy. I wasn’t playing fast because I didn’t really know what to do yet. Now I know what to do, and when you know what to do, you’re going to play really fast. It makes the game a lot easier."

A look at Lane Kiffin working on the I-formation in Alabama football practice |

Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin ran the running back group through several formations, some off-set I-formations and pistol looks. Fowler (45), Corey McCarron (47) and Michael Nysewander (46) were taking turns at fullback.

It looked like they were working on the timing of the operation that hasn't been used much at Alabama recently. They used a few two-back looks in short-yardage situations, but not much in normal offensive flow.

The return of the I-formation and pistol set?  /SWOON

Former Alabama LB Rolando McClain reportedly labors through workout with Baltimore Ravens |

In an interview at Alabama's Pro Day last month, McClain, who was the eighth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, said he'd been working out and was close to obtaining his degree.

"Right now, I'm just focusing on finishing up my degree," he said. "I've been working out to stay in shape, but s---, I'm only 24. It's not hard to get out of shape. I don't know. Football is football. Right now, I don't have any plans." The Ravens, who signed McClain after a rocky three seasons with the Oakland Raiders, own his contractual rights if he opts to officially come out of retirement.

Hope the best for Ro, but excuses (particularly nonsensical excuses) are not his friend right now.  I have no idea what he was trying to convey with that excuse.  "Of course I'm out of shape, I'm in my athletic prime."

Carson Tinker opens up about his new book, aims to inspire 3 years after Tuscaloosa tornado |

The book weaves his story of loss and recovery through faith and excellent medical care. It also provides game-by-game insight into the 2011 BCS championship run and how it helped the healing process.

"Kind of the whole theme for me was, you either live in vision or you live in circumstance," Tinker, now the long snapper for the Jacksonville Jaguars, said in an interview with "For me, this is part of my vision. I wanted to help people and in the process of writing the book, I actually learned a lot more of the little details that I missed at first glance. It was a blessing to me to even go back and have a little bit more of a realization of what went on."

Like everyone else, I knew the part of the story that Carson lost his girlfriend in that tornado.  For some reason though, I don't think I realized the extent of the injuries that he suffered physically.  The picture used at the top of the linked article was incredibly poignant to me, and it was the first time that I've seen it.  Carson's look of optimism, coupled with Saban's pensive look of fatherly concern -- it really is a moving photograph.

Extra practice footage from yesterday's practice: