Nick Saban provides injury update on Jaylen Waddle
Nick Saban provided an update on Jaylen Waddle on Monday, confirming that the injured receiver underwent surgery Saturday night in Birmingham, Ala. after fracturing his ankle during the opening kickoff of Alabama’s game against Tennessee.
Saban said he has spoken with Waddle since the injury, stating the receiver is “pretty groggy” but underwent a “very, very successful” surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.
Following Saturday’s game, Saban said Waddle would probably be out for the season. However, the head coach's Monday prognosis leaves the door open a bit for a possible return.
“It’s a difficult timetable to know when a guy can come back from something like this," Saban said. "That’s something that’s going to be ongoing. Probably six to eight weeks before he can even start real heavy rehab, then relative to your position, how fast can you come back after that is really, really up in the air.”
Eight weeks from the injury would be Dec. 19, the day of the SEC Championship Game.
Regardless of whether Waddle is able to return in time to rejoin the team this season, the Tide will need to find a way to account for the loss of its leading receiver for the time being. Before suffering the injury, Waddle tallied 25 receptions for 557 yards and four touchdowns over four full games.
Alabama rallied without Waddle over the weekend, piling up 587 yards, including 417 through the air, in a 48-17 win over Tennessee. Although, replacing the star receiver still seems to be a tall task moving forward.
“You can’t replace a guy like Jaylen Waddle in terms of what his ability is," Saban said. "It’s no different than losing Allen Iverson if you’re a guy who scores 30, 40 points a game. He’s that kind of impact player.”
Slade Bolden filled in admirably for Waddle over the weekend, reeling in a career-high six receptions for 94 yards. The redshirt sophomore is now set to take on the starting role alongside DeVonta Smith and John Metchie III.
"We just want him to be the best player that he can be relative to what he can do," Saban said. "And how can we get some of our other players at the receiver position to step up and also do some things that they’re capable of doing that would help us be able to continue to have success with the receivers that we have and the passing game that we’ve had so far and the balance that we try to create with that passing game on offense.”
Alabama’s offense will face a tough test this week as it goes up against a Mississippi State defense that leads the SEC in total defense (295.5 yards allowed per game) and passing defense (192.3 yards allowed per game). The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs are set to kick off at 6 p.m. CT Saturday inside of Bryant-Denny Stadium.