TUSCALOOSA _ University of Alabama senior defensive end Brandon Deaderick still wears the bandages from being shot Aug. 31, but is looking forward to making a bigger contribution on the football field Saturday against North Texas.
"I can't wait to get back out there," Deaderick said Wednesday evening.
Deaderick was shot during a failed carjacking, but returned to practice less than two days later and played sparingly against Virginia Tech on Sept. 5. However, he didn't get on the field against Florida International after missing practices to attend his grandmother's funeral.
"Actually, going out there as early as I did helped me recover faster, helped get the swelling out, the soreness out, get mobility in my muscles," Deaderick said.
However, the wounds are still healing and Deaderick has to clean them two or three times a day to avoid infection.
"It's pretty hard not to change after an experience like that," Deaderick said. "You realize that everything can be taken from you just like that, and everything that's happened with my family it makes you a lot more grateful.
"They say you always complain about having those shoes until you see the man with no feet. It's kind of like that. It was humbling and enlightening being in that situation, but you have to take advantage of every opportunity you're given."
Police still have yet to make an arrest in the case.
"Everyone keeps saying I had a bad couple of weeks, I had a blessed couple of weeks," Deaderick said. "I could have been dead."
Sophomore wide receiver Julio Jones (knee), senior running back Roy Upchurch (ankle), and freshman wide receiver Kenny Bell (shin splints) were all still in black signaling no contact and working by themselves while the team practiced Wednesday.
Usually players who aren't practicing by Thursday don't see significant playing time in games, although their status for North Texas is still considered questionable.
"Both guys have made significant improvements," Coach Nick Saban said during the weekly SEC conference call. "I can't really know at this point whether those improvements will be enough for them to play in this week's game. We'll probably know more about that after practice tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Alabama apparently doesn't expect to have a favorable ruling regarding the eligibility of sophomore linebacker Jerrell Harris by Saturday. He was wearing a No. 42 jersey, meaning he was mimicking North Texas linebacker Craig Robertson during drills.
Sophomore Nick Gentry appeared to be getting more work at defensive end, after spending most of the fall at defensive tackle.
Practice heads inside
Midway through Wednesday's practice the team moved inside the Hank Crisp Indoors Facility, but not so much because of the rain.
Saban gave quite an explanation as to why he doesn't mess around with lightning.
"One time I was at Miami, we were in camp, we had the most sophisticated tracking system for thunderstorms that you could ever have," he said. "We had a golf course right next door where the sirens would go off, and we had computerized stuff so buttons and beepers would go off, and would have people on the hill because we would get some pretty serious storms at times. Not one of those things went off and we had lightning rods over the practice field and we got domed without any warning.
"I have to be honest, I was always kind of one of those guys who wasn't crazy about going in, I didn't want to interrupt practice and all that. We had no warning that one time and everybody hit the deck on the video, everybody. We had NFL officials there, Coach Saban, every coach, every player, Junior Seau, everybody. So when they tell me there's lightning around now, we're hauling ass."
Saban has been impressed with senior nose guard Terrence Cody's effort and focus the past couple of weeks, essentially since he returned from the flu.
"I think we went through the little period of time here he didn't have the same motivation," Saban said. "He worked hard. I don't really know what he was aspiring too. He and I talk a lot and right now he's really working hard."
The coach mentioned that Cody's pass rushing has improved and has hinted he might leave the nose guard on the field more on third downs. Meanwhile, Cody continues to be frequently double-teamed.
"I don't know," Cody said. "I don't pay any attention to it. The linebackers are making plays. Somebody is being double teamed or somebody is taking up two blocks."
Athletics director Mal Moore issued a statement on the death of former NCAA president Dr. Myles Brand: "I am very sad to hear the news of the passing of Dr. Brand. I first met him at the SEC meetings in Destin, Florida, in 2003, shortly after he became President of the NCAA. We invited him to visit our campus and he took us up on the offer and attended the Arkansas game later that year. I will always remember and appreciate his visit to Alabama. All of us at the University send our sincerest condolences to his family."
One of Saban's themes this week has been getting off to a better start, not just in games, but practice as well. "We are really still trying to get the message to the players that we want to start fast and finish strong," he said. "Nothing happens by accident. I think the habits that they create starts with practice. How you start a practice and how you finish. All of those things are important." Saban later added, "I'm not displeased with where we are, but last year we had trouble finishing at times, this year we seem to have trouble starting. If we can just get it all together, I guess we'll be pretty good."
After arriving on the Capstone at the end of summer, later than most of his teammates, true freshman Michael Bowman had a turning point a couple of weeks ago. "He went down on the scout team and just tore it up," Saban said. "I said, 'Where's this guy been?' And I talked to him about it and if he was committed to continuing to do that we'd give him another chance to try and contribute to the offense because playing that way he would be one of our six or seven best receivers. I think once he got in better shape and once he got his legs back, played a lot faster and had a little better understanding of what he was supposed to do, he's made a tremendous amount of improvement and is one of the six or seven best receivers we have right now."