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Jumbo Package: Spring football practice starts today

Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

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NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Ohio State vs Alabama Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, everyone. The First Four are now out of the way, as Texas Southern, Drake, Norfolk St. and UCLA advanced to the round of 64, which starts today. The Tide are still a day away from tipoff, and many are bullish on their chances.

Add one Charles Barkley to the mix. This is funny.

Hey, if we get to the Final Four, why not go ahead and knock off an unbeaten team? YOLO.

Hey, spring practice opens today!

There’s so much new talent being infused into the offense after losing record-breaking talent at every position. The running back room remains stacked without Najee Harris, for example, with Brian Robinson joined by Jase McClellan, Trey Sanders, Roydell Williams and the return of Keilan Robinson. That’s before No. 2 running back recruit Camar Wheaton joins over the summer.

While the core of a generational offense is now auditioning for the NFL, important names like John Metchie, Jahleel Billingsley, Evan Neal and Chris Owens are back for some continuity.

Young’s limited opportunities led to a series of frustrating errors last season. Often inserted into predictable situations late during blowouts, the freshman quarterback had a tendency of holding onto the ball too long in search of a big play — a fault that resulted in him taking six sacks while coughing up the football two times over 114 snaps.

As Young readies himself for his first season as a starter, there’s also a bit of concern about his slight stature. Listed at 6-foot, 194 pounds, he has a drastically different build than his beefier predecessors at the position in Mac Jones (6-3, 214), Tua Tagovailoa (6-1, 218) and Jalen Hurts (6-2, 218).

Has Saban rearranged his thoughts on what constitutes great defenses in light of the offenses they face week in and week out? How does Alabama get back to being a great defense? Is Golding the guy to get the defense to be great again?

Alabama isn’t going to have the offense it had in 2020, one that outscored Ole Miss and Florida in shootouts. The offense is still likely to be good, but not historically good or efficient. That means the defense will have to carry a bigger load in 2021.

This is going to be an especially intriguing spring. As Suttles notes, Saban has seemingly conceded at least somewhat that we are living in an offensive era, yet the offense is going through a full reload while the defense returns plenty. Can Young live up to the hype and continue the video game numbers we’ve seen from the past couple of seasons? Can the defense keep them out of too many shootouts? The talent on the roster is ungodly, as usual, but they have to put it together.

Since COVID protocols are still in place, there will be little in the way of media access, so don’t expect much to leak from the practices. Just how Saban likes it.

Last, some NFL notes for you.

The Cincinnati Bengals had an opportunity to keep Tony Brown by placing a tender on him when he was a restricted free agent. They didn’t do that, and Brown became an unrestricted free agent at 3 p.m. CDT Wednesday.

But the Bengals still are keeping Brown.

The NFL team announced on Thursday afternoon that it had signed the former Alabama defensive back to a one-year contract.

Joe Judge was a member of Nick Saban’s coaching staff when Alabama was recruiting Bob Jones High School star Reggie Ragland. But the Crimson Tide’s special-teams assistant left for the NFL before Ragland arrived for his first college season.

Ten years later, Judge and Ragland are on the same team. Judge is preparing for his second season as the New York Giants’ head coach, and Ragland has joined the NFL team via free agency, the Giants’ website reported on Thursday night.

Kenyan Drake and Josh Jacobs were never teammates at Alabama, but the former Crimson Tide running backs will be now with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Drake became an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday afternoon and has chosen to sign with the Raiders, his agency announced on Thursday afternoon.

The Raiders also employ Henry Ruggs III, in case you are in the market for a Sunday rooting interest.

That’ s about it for today. Have a great weekend.

Roll Tide.