As the Crimson Tide neared its last week of practice before the first game week, coach Nick Saban addressed players returning from injuries and specific players who have made names for themselves in the preseason, among other matters.
With the movement of players along the secondary, attention was turned to sophomore safety Landon Collins and his progression thus far in 2013, which Saban said has turned heads in practices.
“Landon is an outstanding player,” Saban said. “He’s an outstanding special teams player. I think sometimes guys get a little frustrated that they don’t learn fast enough because they really want to be good and they put a lot of pressure on themselves to be good, and Landon’s that way. Those are all good qualities.”
Saban also alluded to Collins’ mental adeptness in absorbing his role on Kirby Smart’s complex defense.
“Now he’s finally comfortable and confident in what he’s supposed to do, and he’s played here really well,” Saban said. “He’s definitely going to have a role in dime situations. I think he’s one of our best safeties as well.”
Senior safety Nick Perry said he agreed with his head coach.
“Landon has really improved since his freshman year,” Perry said. “Landon is a big hitter; he’s fast; he’s strong. I can’t wait to see what he can do on the field this year.”
Collins, a former five-star recruit from Geismar, La., saw a crucial role on special teams in his freshman season, tying for the team lead in tackles with 10. He also blocked a punt against Missouri.
Saban praises Hart’s toughness
Running back Dee Hart, who was briefly experimented with at cornerback during the spring, has moved back to his natural running back position. After missing his entire freshman season and much of 2012 with separate leg injuries, he is expected to compete for playing time out of the backfield.
“Dee Hart is one of the most competitive guys on the team,” Saban said. “If everyone was as competitive as Dee, we wouldn’t be worried about complacency or being selfish or accountability or any of that stuff that we’re worried about all of the time.
Senior cornerback Deion Belue, who faces off against Hart in practice, echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“Dee Hart is the toughest player I know on the team. He doesn’t back down for anybody. It doesn’t matter it it’s Ed Stinson or Adrian Hubbard, he’s sit off on them and give them everything they got,” he said.
Ball back at practice
Saban said sophomore defensive lineman Dakota Ball returned to practice after receiving an appendectomy and that Amari Cooper continues to increase his practice regimen after suffering a minor injury.