Mark Ingram Close To Game Ready

Mark Ingram

Mark Ingram was in uniform for practice Wednesday. How close is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner to being ready to play? Close, according to his head coach. But it sounds like it would be a surprise if Ingram makes it back for Saturday.



Alabama Coach Nick Saban said that Mark Ingram "was in gear today and did some of the stuff, some running. I just don't know if Mark is going to get enough practice time.

"He's getting close, but I don't know if he's going to get enough practice time to play this game or not."

"This game" is number one Alabama against the Penn State Nittany Lions of Coach Joe Paterno, ranked 14th in the Coaches Poll and 18th by the Associated Press. Kickoff Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium will be at 6 p.m. CDT with television coverage by ESPN.

Ingram is recovering from arthroscopic surgery following a knee injury in late August. He missed Bama's season opening game, a 48-3 win over San Jose State.

Saban said it probably would not be a game day decision on Ingram. "If a guy can't practice on Thursday, he usually can't play in the game," Saban said. " We're not pushing Mark back in the game. We're not pushing Mark back in this game, we're not jeopardizing his future, his career, or anything else. Until he can go out on the field and practice and gain confidence, get himself in physical condition, we won't do that."

Saban added, "If there is anybody in the world who could play without practicing it is probably Mark -- because he's a student of the game, he watches everything, he understands everything, knows everything, and he's a tremendous competitor, and he's got a lot of experience. But we would never put him in that situation."

Otherwise on the injury front, the news was good. Saban said that jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw and reserve safety Wesley Neighbors practiced Wednesday. Neighbors was injured last week in practice, Upshaw in last Saturday's 48-3 win over San Jose State.

Saban pointed out that starting right tackle D.J. Fluker, who was injured against San Jose, had been practicing the past two days.

Alabama's Wednesday practice was in full gear and conducted in the indoor practice facility.

"We've had a pretty good week so far," Saban said. "We decided to go inside last week on Wednesday and Thursday mainly because of the heat. The players really worked hard yesterday (outside Tuesday), and I just think this takes a toll on you after a while. And if they're not used to [the heat] by now, they're not going to get used to it.

"I think our players have really approached this week the right way in terms of trying to improve and get better. You made a decent grade on the first test. That doesn't mean you should relax. Every time you get a test, you're going to get tested on a different level with different information.  You've got to prepare yourself right and do the right things so that you can use wherever you were as the standard to improve from, and that's certainly what we want to do.

"It takes preparation. I know everyone wants to focus on the result, but the fact of the matter is when we go to step on the scale to see how much we weigh we either get a good result or a bad result, but that's just the result. Everything you did before you got on there determines the result. Did you eat right, do the right things: That's the same thing with our players. If they want to get the right result, they've got to do the right things.

"Good preparation is how you have a chance to beat teams like this because they are going to execute, they are going to do what they do, they are going to to it well, they are going to play with effort, they are going to play with focus, and they are not going to beat themselves.

"So that's the kind of team we've got to get ready to play.

"We're looking forward to a great game on Saturday against a really good team. I think when you play teams like that you really find out where you are because you will be tested in many, many ways."

Saban said that freshman Jalston Fowler, who was signed as either a fullback or linebacker and who has been working at linebacker since last spring, is now getting some work at fullback. Fowler is working on short yardage and goal line.

Freshman defensive end Brandon Moore missed the opener because of a one-game suspension for a minor NCAA infraction last year. Saban said he is eligible for this game, has been practicing and showing improvement, and might have a chance to play.

The Tide coach announced that fullback Mike Marrow had decided to transfer to be closer to his home in Ohio.

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