Tuesday afternoon the Alabama Crimson Tide hit the practice field for the first time since the Iron Bowl and head coach Nick Saban’s contract extension. The Tide were in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts while practicing inside for the first workout of Sugar Bowl preparation.
The biggest news regarding the team coming into these first practices are the post season surgeries of offensive guard Anthony Steen and free safety HaHa Clinton-Dix. Steen was not at practice as expected, and freshman Grant Hill, rather than Kellen Williams, was working with the first team offensive line in his place. Alphonse Taylor also worked with the first team at guard.
HaHa Clinton-Dix was not wearing a brace on his knee following his knee scope after the Iron Bowl and practiced during some drills while watching others off to the side. He was not wearing a black, no-contact jersey though. Dix will likely be ready for the Sugar Bowl.
Center Ryan Kelly was back working with the first team offensive line after missing the Iron Bowl.
Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson was back on the field for the first time since he tore his ACL early in the season. He was wearing a black, no-contact jersey and was not doing all the drills, but his being back on the field this early is an excellent sign.
Also back at practice after a season ending surgery was safety Nick Perry, who had shoulder surgery early in the year, and he too was wearing a black, no-contact jersey.
Starting cornerback Deion Belue was having his hamstring wrapped up early in practice but seemed to be moving well despite it.
Former Tennessee and USC head coach Lane Kiffin, who Nick Saban has invited to Tuscaloosa to help evaluate Alabama’s offense, was not seen at practice.
Saban Press Conference
Nick Saban spoke to the media after practice for the first time since the Iron Bowl, and emphasized that today’s practice was all about the team “recommitting” to makes the Alabama program as good as it is, and that the first few practices will be a lot like fall camp working on fundamentals.
Saban confirmed Steen’s shoulder surgery and said that he had played half the season with the injury. He also said that HaHa Clinton-Dix was fine and that Dalvin Tomlinson and Nick Perry obviously won’t play, and that their return is just part of the rehab process.
Saban had no desire to talk about the Texas job, and said that he told ESPN he never had any interest in the job and that remains the case.
“I think I already made a reaction to that (the Texas rumors), don’t you watch ESPN? Didn’t you see what they put down across the bottom line? That’s my reaction to it,” Saban said.
“So I don’t have any more reactions to it and it’s over, so why do we want to talk about that? Do we want to look forward? I’m looking forward. I made a commitment to the players that are here and I’m happy to be committed to them and I want them to make the same kind of commitment to the program and their future success.”
He then smiled and lit up like the proud grandfather he is when asked about his first grandson being born. A smiling Saban beamed when talking about rocking his grandson for the first time.
Saban said they always talk to coaches from other players to “brainstorm” on ideas every year so he was surprised the reactions that have come about Lane Kiffin being in town.