Tide Depth Pays Off When Injuries Hit

Have you thought about your Right Guard? No, not a trip down the personal products aisle at the drug store. The Alabama football team’s right guard.

Year after year Alabama Coach Nick Saban adds outstanding talent at every position, and that recruiting leads to depth, one of the most important components in championship contention.

And so it is at a couple of positions with just under three weeks before Bama opens the season against West Virginia at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Aug. 30.

Right guard looked to be in good hands as Alabama had two starting positions to replace on the offensive line. Anthony Steen has gone on to the NFL after three years starting at right guard for the Tide. Steen was injured and didn’t play in the Sugar Bowl last year, but Leon Brown filled in admirably.

Unfortunately, Brown (6-6, 320) has not yet practiced this fall camp as he continues to rehabillitate an injured foot. He was expected to miss about two weeks, which comes at the end of this week.

An Alabama signee this year is Dominick Jackson (6-7, 320), who was Scout.com’s No. 1 junior college prospect regardless of position coming out of the College of San Mateo in California. Jackson had been working at right guard, but in Saturday’s scrimmage he suffered an ankle sprain that Saban said “might keep him out for a couple of weeks.”

So bring in sophomore Alphonse Taylor (6-5, 325), who played at both guard spots last year in a back-up role, seeing action in eight games. “Shank,” as the Mobile native is known, came to Alabama as a defensive line prospect and spent a redshirt year in 2012 as he made the transition to offense.

Following Saturday’s practice, Saban said, “Shank has been playing consistently and doing a good job.”

Saban talked about the offensive line, which has been considered something of a question mark by some because the Tide is replacing two starters, Steen at right guard and Cyrus Kouandjio at left tackle.

Saban said, “We've been physical upfront. Dominick (Jackson) is a very physical player. He was certainly going to have a presence. Ross Pierschbacher (6-4, 295) , as a freshman, looks like a guy that may be able to contribute in the two-deep. So I've been kind of pleased with the way that group is coming along.

At left tackle, Saban said, freshman “Cam Robinson (6-6, 323) is doing really well and has been doing really, really well all camp. I've been encouraged by the offensive line to this point. Leon (Brown) will probably start doing some stuff this week or at least go through his acclimation period that he has to go through. It takes four days to get them to where they can be in pads like everybody else. That's probably good thing and it'll be helpful to him in terms of his rehab. Shep's (Austin Shepherd, 6-5, 320, senior right tackle) been playing really good. Ryan Kelly (6-5, 296, junior center) is playing really well. Arie Kouandjio (6-5, 315, senior left guard) is consistent.”

Also in the scrimmage, sophomore tight end Kurt Freitag suffered a turf toe injury and junior safety Geno Smith had a slight knee sprain. Saban said there were some other minor injuries.

Sophomore cornerback Eddie Jackson, who suffered an ACL injury in the spring and has been limited in practice, was held out of the scrimmage. Saban said Jackson “probably could have scrimmaged today, but it was out choice not to do that. He has been doing a good job in practice. I don't think that's a position that you can play if you're not 100 per cent. And he's certainly making great progress. Can do everything in practice, but I don't think he's ready to go out there and scrimmage football yet.”

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