Alabama opened spring football practice Friday, with coach Nick Saban calling it a "snapshot" of where Crimson Tide players stand individually and collectively.
"This is where we are," Saban said in a news conference after the two-hour workout in helmets and shorts. "We know where we want to go. Let's focus on how to get there."
It will be a while before the Crimson Tide hold their second of 15 spring workouts. Alabama is now off for spring break and will resume practicing March 23.
Saban announced Friday evening that senior linebacker Denzel Devall and senior cornerback Cyrus Jones would not be participating this spring. Devall had a foot operation to deal with an injury he sustained at Ole Miss last October, while Jones had cartilage in his hip that needed repair.
One player making strides coming off a season-ending setback is senior tailback Kenyan Drake, who fractured his leg at Ole Miss.
"Kenyan is really doing better and better," Saban said. "He actually ran a 4.4 (40-yard dash) when we timed the guys the other day. He's getting his speed back, but he probably can't sustain it because he hasn't been doing the same level of conditioning. He's done all the conditioning during the offseason, but he hasn't been able to do it to the level of the other players.
"We were really pleased with the progress he made."
Saban said that two players would be switching from the defensive front, with Korren Kirven moving to the offensive line and Johnny Dwight to tight end.
There was one instance Friday in which Saban seemed in midseason form with the media. When asked how fifth-year senior Jacob Coker looked at quarterback, he responded, "We've only had one practice, and you guys act like we've been practicing every day illegally in the offseason. All we've done is run around cones and jump around bags."
Friday's practice included eight early enrollees and a pair of new assistants, outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi and secondary coach Mel Tucker. Alabama has onlly nine of 22 starters back, including just two on offense.
"We've got a lot of holes to fill, especially on offense, but we also have a lot of veteran players who have played a lot of football here," Saban said. "They are going to get the opportunity to maybe take advantage of having a greater role on the team."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.