Alabama practiced in full pads for the second day in a row in the Wednesday morning, Tuscaloosa heat. It was the first of two practices for the day as the Tide prepares for its first scrimmage of the fall on Saturday.
“Practice has been going really good,” wide receiver Kenny Bell said. “The whole offense and defense is out there getting better every day. We’re coming out there and competing, learning from each other, making each other better. We’re just working hard.”
Freshman receiver Chris Black was the only notable absentee from practice. He sustained a shoulder injury during Saturday’s Fan Day, and head coach Nick Saban called him “very questionable” on Tuesday night.
“He’s not (frustrated),” Bell said. “He’s a smart guy. He’s just been working hard. He didn’t get his head down, he’s still been learning and working hard. He’s learning from the side and he’s been real humble about the situation.”
The receiving corps continues to be the tightest unit in practice competition-wise. Bell and Black are part of a group that has as many as eight or nine players – ranging from freshmen who just arrived on campus to juniors like Bell – all competing for starting time.
“All the receivers, we’re just coming out there to get better,” Bell said about the group. “We’re just competing with each other, pushing each other to make sure everybody comes out to work hard and show all their ability to play. All the receivers are like brothers to each other. We push each other, we get on each other and make sure everyone is working.”
Kouandjio brothers recover from injuries
Offensive linemen Arie and Cyrus Kouandjio – brothers who signed with Alabama a year apart from each other – both sustained injuries in 2011 that kept them off of the field for a significant amount of time.
Arie injured his knee in pre-season camp last year, and had knee surgery that ended his season. Cyrus, a year younger than Arie, saw significant playing time at left tackle in the early part of 2011, but sustained a knee injury during the Tennessee game that required surgery.
Both brothers are back on the field for fall camp. Cyrus is expected to start at left tackle, while his older brother has been working at guard with the second unit.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Cyrus said. “My knee’s back and I’m just pushing forward with the team, trying to get better every day.
“I’m glad to see [Arie] back on the field with me. He’s working. He’s a hard worker and he has a good attitude. I’m proud of my big brother for that.”
Tide looking ahead, not back
Much has been made this offseason about putting the 2011 BCS National Championship in the rearview mirror and focusing on the season ahead. The 2012 version of the Tide has drawn numerous comparisons to the 2010 unit that lost three games and failed to appear in a BCS game just a year after winning the national championship.
Sophomore safety Vinnie Sunseri continued that line of thinking, when he was asked whether the championship game in New Orleans prepared Alabama for its season opener vs. Michigan.
“No sir. We’re living in the moment,” he said. “We’ve already forgot about New Orleans. That’s not in any part of our preparation for this season. We’ve got to prepare. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to work hard everyday.”
Alabama will return to the practice field Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, before concluding with another two-a-day on Friday before Saturday’s scrimmage. All practices and scrimmages are closed to the public.