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Practice Notes: OL Shuffles, Only 2 QBs Take First Team Reps

Looks like the QB battle is, in fact, a two-horse race.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Some interesting notes from the team's first practice for USC on Friday:

Alabama practice report: Tide begins preparations for USC |

—Quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Cooper Bateman were working with the receivers while David Cornwell was throwing to the tight ends. Blake Barnett was present.

That last sentence speaks volumes. Saban talks about using camp to figure out which guys they are going to work with, since they can't afford to burn valuable game prep time on guys who aren't going to contribute to this year's team. Unless there is an illness or injury that we don't know about, it looks like that decision has been made at the QB spot. It's the Cooper and Jalen show until further notice.

Practice report: Alabama makes a change along O-line

- After 21 practices, there was a noticeable change along what appears to be the first-team offensive line. Bradley Bozeman lined up at center, while Ross Pierschbacher moved over to right guard. Cam Robinson was at left tackle, Lester Cotton was at left guard and Jonah Williams was at right tackle -- just like we have seen the last 21 practice sessions.

This is interesting. Bozeman was the backup center in the 2014 season, but has been seen at guard exclusively during the previous media viewing periods. While we don't know what went on behind closed doors, this seems to be an odd change to make after camp. I'm sure Saban will be asked about it in Monday's press conference.

Why Alabama's defense could be even better than last year's highly-ranked unit |

CBS Sports ranks Foster, defensive end Jonathan Allen, outside linebacker Tim Williams and safety Eddie Jackson as the top NFL draft prospects among seniors at their respective positions. Those four and redshirt senior outside linebacker Ryan Anderson all may have been early-round draft picks had they gone pro after last season. Two — Allen and Williams — would have probably gone in the first round, according to many draft analysts. Nonetheless, all five returned to school.

As it says in the article, there are nine players who will be playing prominent roles on the defense who are projected as likely first-rounders in the next two drafts. That is simply an absurd level of talent.

Middle of Alabama's defense still has plenty of size

Now Payne is working to be on the field regardless of the defense.

"He didn't play a lot in nickel but really did a good job in regular and his role has expanded," Saban said. "He's had a really good camp. We've tried to improve him a little bit as a pass rusher so he could be a good inside player for us and I think he's done that so he gives us another inside player that we can play, which I think is critical based on the guys that we lost.

"Jonathan Allen can play in or out. Dalvin can play in or out. Da'Ron can play inside, we've got a couple other guys that can be inside pass rushers on third down and of course we have the outside linebackers that play a little bit more when it's third down."

Lots of flexibility on that line, and Payne is going to push a lot of people around again.

Lastly, this is the positive side of player transfers:

This is great. Three scholarships opened by those who somehow believe their NFL dreams can be more easily realized elsewhere go to guys who love Alabama and would do anything to get to wear that Crimson jersey. All three - DB Levi Wallace, TE Truett Harris and TE Brandon Moore - have been in the program for four years, finding the money for school like any common college student would, without really seeing the field. Congratulations to them on their well earned scholarships.

Roll Tide.