Alabama Practice Report 3/23: Tide Reopens Spring Workouts Following Layoff
After a nine-day break, Alabama restarted spring practice Monday in its second of 15 workouts that culminate on April 18 with the team’s A-Day game. The players practiced outside on the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields for the first time this spring, wearing shells (shoulder pads, helmets and shorts).
- Cornerback Cyrus Jones (hip cartilage) and outside linebacker Denzel Devall (foot) are still wearing black non-contact jerseys and working off to the side with strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran. During the media’s viewing periods of practice, Jones began by working with resistance bands while Devall appeared to be doing ab exercises nearby. Then they switched.
In his press conference after the team’s first spring practice on March 13, Alabama coach Nick Saban said Jones and Devall will likely miss all of spring due to injury.
“The two guys that will probably not practice all spring long will be Denzel Devall, who had a foot operation that stems back from his original injury in the Ole Miss game a year ago,” Saban said, “and Cyrus Jones had cartilage in his hip that needed to be repaired. That was something that came from the season, as well.”
- For the second straight practice, running back Tyren Jones and offensive lineman Grant Hill were not in attendance. Jones was suspended indefinitely on February 10 for a violation of team rules, while Hill is sick. It’s not known if the undisclosed illness is related to the one that held him out of team activities for a long stretch during the fall.
“Grant Hill has still got medical leave, and we're not prepared to make any decisions about what his future status is,” Saban said after the March 13 practice. “You already know that Tyren Jones has been suspended this semester so far.”
- Saban continues to toy with a few self-described “experiments” for defensive linemen Korren Kirven and Johnny Dwight. Kirven, a rising redshirt junior, is working with the offensive linemen, while Dwight, a freshman last year, practices with the tight ends. Saban has looked at players at different positions in past springs that didn’t stick, so the moves aren’t likely permanent at this point. On a roster provided by Alabama media relations, Kirven is listed as an “OL/DL,” while Dwight is a “DL/TE.”
- Another experiment that isn’t necessarily new is defensive back Ronnie Clark’s move to running back. For the second straight practice, Clark was grouped with the latter – at least during the media’s viewing period. Following Kenyan Drake’s broken leg against Ole Miss, Clark shifted from safety to running back to provide depth. But two weeks later, his season also ended early when he tore his Achilles tendon in practice. Currently, he is listed on the team’s official roster at two positions – “DB/RB.”
- At running back, Derrick Henry, in his new No. 2 jersey, was first through drills, followed by a healthy-looking Drake during the first viewing period of practice. Then, Drake went over and practiced catching passes with the receivers.
“Kenyan is really doing better and better,” Saban said on March 13. “He actually ran 4.4 when we timed the guys the other day (for Alabama’s rising seniors after Pro Day). He’s doing really well, getting his speed back.”
- In the second viewing period, Bo Scarbrough, Clark and early enrollee DeSherrius Flowers came in behind Henry during drills.
- Jake Coker, the early frontrunner to replace Blake Sims at quarterback, was first through drills, followed by Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and Blake Barnett.
- The wide receivers, which lose its top three players from last season this spring, saw veteran Chris Black first in line when catching passes from coaches, with ArDarius Stewart, Cam Sims, Robert Foster, Parker Barrineau and Derek Kief behind him in that order. At a position like wide receiver where so many players can contribute, it’s hard to say how much that order really means. Wide receiver is arguably the most wide-open position battle this spring.
“We’ve got a couple talented receivers that need to develop into the kind of players that can play with a winning performance at their position,” Saban said on March 13. “We’re going to work with them so that we hope that they can.”
- O.J. Howard and Ty Flournoy-Smith were the leaders at tight end in pass-catching drills.
- Dakota Ball is still practicing with the tight ends as he did for much of last fall. On the provided roster, he is listed as a "TE/DL."
- The first-team offensive line group was comprised of, from left to right, Cam Robinson, Alphonse Taylor, Ryan Kelly, Bradley Bozeman and Dominick Jackson. Taylor, Bozeman and Jackson would all be new starters this season if this group remained as is.
- The starting pair at inside linebacker looked to be Reggie Ragland and Shaun Dion Hamilton. Hamilton was alongside Ragland in the team’s first practice on March 13, as well. If you are wondering why Reuben Foster isn’t practicing with the first team, remember that it’s still early.
- Dillon Lee was working with the outside linebackers, likely to help fill the void left by the injured Devall. Lee, originally an outside linebacker, frequently practiced with the inside linebackers last season, too.
- New outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi is very vocal and motivating. "The emphasis today is finishing," he told his players as they went through footwork drills.
- It was hard to tell, but with Cyrus Jones injured, it still looks like Eddie Jackson/Tony Brown, then Marlon Humphrey/Bradley Sylve are the top two pairs at cornerback.
Alabama has no media availability today. Nick Saban and selected players will next speak to the media following Wednesday’s practice at around 6 p.m.
Check out videos and photos from Monday's practice: