WATCH: Saban provides answers to several questions as Alabama opens camp
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama held its opening spring practice Friday as the media got its first glimpse of what next year’s team will look like. While the 15-minute viewing period answered a few questions, it also created a few more.
— Notable absences Friday included linebackers Ale Kaho and Ben Davis as well as tight end Kedrick James.
— Defensive back Shyheim Carter was at practice but was wearing a black, no-contact jersey and wasn’t participating in drills.
— Alabama also had several players return from injury including linebackers Terrell Lewis (ACL) and Christopher Allen (ACL) as well as defensive backs Trevon Diggs (foot), Jalyn Armour-Davis (ACL) and Daniel Wright (shoulder) who were all full participants.
— On top of all of that, redshirt freshman outside linebacker Cameron Latu was seen catching passes with the tight ends.
During his news conference later in the afternoon, Nick Saban helped clear up some of the confusion by providing updates on several items. The head coach began by addressing Alabama’s current injury situation.
“Shyheim Carter and Ben Davis will probably be limited throughout the spring,” Saban said. “Although, I do think Shyheim has the chance to get back at some time. He had a sports hernia. Ben Davis has got like shin-splint type injuries that had to be fixed.
“All the other players — Trevon Diggs, Terrell Lewis, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Chris Allen — those guys all participated in practice today. They participated in some degree in the offseason programs. We’re thinking those guys will be fine.”
Carter was Alabama’s starter at the Star position last season where he tallied 10 pass breakups and returned two interceptions for touchdowns. He was tied with safety Deionte Thompson as Alabama’s highest-rated defensive back, earning an 88.4 grade from Pro Football Focus. Davis, a former five-star recruit, saw action in two games last season but did not record any stats.
Saban was less clear when addressing Kaho, who emerged as a special teams star during his freshman year and is thought to be a candidate for the starting inside linebacker position alongside Dylan Moses.
“He’s got some issues that he’s dealing with, and we’re trying to be supportive of him every way that we can,” Saban said. “I think we’re just going to continue to try and help him every way that we can, and I don’t know if they’ll be some point in time when he’ll be ready to come back and play football or not.”
As for Latu, Saban explained the position switch as an experiment, mentioning Alabama’s lack of depth at the tight end position.
The head coach also confirmed Kedrick James will be suspended for the first four games of the season. The backup tight end was one of three players who were suspended during Alabama’s run in the College Football Playoff, joining starting offensive lineman Deonte Brown and former backup offensive lineman Elliot Baker. Brown will also be suspended for the first four games, while Elliot is no longer with the team.
“We do a lot of experimenting in the spring to see if there’s a guy at who might have more of an opportunity to contribute at another position,” Saban said of Latu. “We obviously lose Hale (Hentges) and Irv. (Smith). We’ve got some experience issues at tight end and also some depth issues.
“Having another guy suspended for four games next year at that position, you’re taking three out of the first four guys are gone. So we need to get some people there, and we’ve been encouraged by the progress that he’s made at that position.”
Alabama players will have next week off for Spring Break and will return to the field for its second practice on March 18.