TUSCALOOSA _ University of Alabama junior wide receiver Julio Jones did more during Wednesday's practice and appears to be on target to play Saturday at South Carolina.
"Didn't seem to have a lot of issues," Coach Nick Saban said. "Like always, you always have to see how he responds to that in terms of what happens next. If he gets better tomorrow, I think he'll be fine."
For the first time this week, Jones was running routes during individual drills when reporters were allowed to observe, and wore a small brace to protect his bruised knee.
However, linebacker Chris Jordan (hamstring) doesn't appear to be progressing as quickly and may be more of a longshot to play. He was at practice, but didn't participate when the interior linebackers were doing a passing drill.
McElroy was dinged up
While trying to give an example of his leadership and perseverance, Saban disclosed that senior quarterback Greg McElroy was dinged up during the Florida game.
"He's actually so poise and so good, he actually got hurt, really, in the second quarter and nobody knew it," he said. "He got hit in the head when he scrambled once and got hit on the sideline, and it really didn't affect him in the game and we didn't know it until the fourth quarter when he called a play wrong and a formation wrong and then tried to run the play that we signaled.
"So I said, 'Something's not right here.'"
Teammates said they didn't notice anything, and if he was hurting wasn't going to show it.
"Not at all," center William Vlachos said. "If your opponent sees that you're down it's kind of like seeing blood in the water. That's kind of the mentality a lot of guys on our team takes. If you see someone hurt you have to put the nail in the coffin."
Saban told his players that Saturday's game will probably define the team more than any other during the regular season.
"Everyone my whole life has been looking for an easier way to do something," Saban said. "When I was a kid you had to get up to turn the channel on the TV and we only had three channels, and I had to go out in the back yard, in the dark, scared to death, and turn the antenna for my dad so we could get the next channel. Now, you don't even get out of the chair and you get 500 channels, not three.
"But to do this, there's no easy way to do it. It takes a lot of hard work, it's very challenging and everybody has to challenge themselves to be their best to be able to do it."
No. 19 South Carolina will be the third straight ranked opponent (at No. 10 Arkansas and No. 7 Florida), and fourth this season (No. 18 Penn State).
Saban on the matchup with 6-foot-4 sophomore receiver Alshon Jeffrey, who leads the SEC in catches (6.8 average) and receiving yards (124.5): "The guy has great size, has been very productive and they use him very well. I don't think it'll just be Dre Kirkpatrick, it'll be whoever is playing against him will have to do a really good job. The big thing is how you play the vertical passes. I think they guy's going to catch some passes in the game, but when they try and throw down the field, for big plays which he's very good at, they're very good at, especially in the red zone, at least what they tried against last year in the red zone, we have to be able to play the ball and make those plays. Eliminate the big play with him is probably the most important thing our corners need to do."
A key for Alabama will be avoiding a poor start like against Arkansas and trying to take the Williams-Brice crowd out of the game. "That's huge," junior wide receiver Darius Hanks said. "We get off to a fast start I feel like we're going to be up the whole game."
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, whose team is off Saturday and visits next week for homecoming said during the weekly SEC coaches' conference call that "everybody should have an open date against Alabama, because they're so good."
Florida coach Urban Meyer on Jones' punt return last Saturday: "There were a lot of disappointments in that that game and that might be No. 1."
Tuscaloosa judge Scott Donaldson issued a writ of arrest Wednesday for sports agent Raymond Savage, who failed to appear in court for a second time to plead to a reduced charge for sending an employee to initiate contact with Tyrone Prothro when he was in the hospital. Savage claimed he couldn't leave Virginia due to health issues.