There is perhaps just one or two starting positions wide open on the Alabama football team – the…
"We had two good practices," Shula said after Thursday's afternoon two-a-day session. "We had a slow start this morning, but after that it was good. Coming in here with the lightning, I think it was cooler in here. We've got more leadership and I think that's coming through with the tempo of practice."
The Humidex heat index calculator hit 112 degrees during the morning practice, with a cooler afternoon workout that came along with the threatening weather.
Tim Castille's work in team drills has continued to increase since his return to the field, and he is running full speed and cutting with little or no hesitation.
"Tim has looked good all week in the team drills. It's comforting when you see him out there," Shula said. "We did some things this morning with our two tight package and our big backs with Le'Ron and Tim in there."
Injury updates included some players returning to practice along with some new additions to the injured list.
Keith Brown returned to the practice field Thursday after being diagnosed with a slight concussion on Sunday. Brown looked good in practice on Thursday running routes and catching passes, and Shula said Brown would likely scrimmage on Saturday.
Jeremy Clark and Mark Anderson have both returned to practice, too. Clark (groin) is a question mark for Saturday's scrimmage and Anderson will probably be held out, although each had done more at practice recently.
Will Oakley, who strained his knee on Sunday was back out Thursday and is likely to scrimmage on Saturday.
Mark Sanders was out of this afternoon's practice with a virus. Shula said he attended the squad's afternoon meetings and hoped to have Sanders back soon.
Sanders is the third offensive guard in three days to be forced out of practice because of injury, forcing back-ups Marlon Davis, Taylor Britt and Justin Moon into more practice repetitions. B.J. Stabler had arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday putting him out for at least the season opener and Antoine Caldwell is out for the week with a sprained ankle.
"We're getting real thin on the offensive line right now," Shula said. "If we were game planning now we would obviously tailor it to the experience of the offensive line. Right now we've been installing and we're living with the fact there are some young guys right now who are going to make some mistakes. But I think it's going to be great experience for them because we may need them during the season."
Terrence Jones cramped up in the locker room after Thursday morning's practice, and was taken to get IV fluid. Jones is sore, Shula said, but is expected to be fine.
Shula also talked about the recent move of Jimmy Johns from quarterback to running back.
"He was such a good player in high school there's a lot of things you can do with him that we kind of want to look at and experiment with," Shula said. "You like his speed, his quickness and his strength when you watch him out here a couple of times carrying the ball today. He's got an advantage because he knows a lot more about protections, more than the backs do maybe, because of all the things he's had to learn at quarterback. But it's still real early. There's a lot of things he has to learn, obviously."
Shula didn't say who first broached the subject of a position move, but he did say it was a group decision.
Johns said, "No one just really came to the other and said, 'Hey, I want to play running back' or 'Hey Jimmy, why don't you play running back.' I talked to them (my parents) first and I told them how I felt and it just went on from there."
"It's all changed around (since reporting date)," Johns said. "Being there and knowing that I'm able to do certain things to help the team - I'm all about the team. That's what we're all about."