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New Alabama offensive line coach Brent Key offers instructions during Friday's first spring workout in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama held its first spring football practice Friday with eight early enrollees, three new assistant coaches and several familiar faces who may not participate in the April 16 A-Day game.

The first workout of the 2016 season followed a 2015 to remember, as the Crimson Tide won their fourth national championship under head coach Nick Saban.

"We've got a lot of people to replace, and that's what makes it fun," Saban said Friday evening in a brief news conference. "When you have 25 percent of your team to replace every year, it's a new opportunity for a lot of people. One thing that was pretty obvious today is that we have some good players, but we have a long way to go to get to where we want to be."

Crimson Tide players will have next week off due to spring break before holding their second workout March 21.

Among the players Saban said would miss most or all of spring drills because of injury are defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (shoulder), safety Eddie Jackson (leg), tackle Cam Robinson (shoulder), tight end Dakota Ball (foot) and receiver Raheem Falkins (leg). Allen and Jackson announced after the 45-40 win over Clemson in the national championship game that they would be returning for their senior seasons.

Alabama is having to replace quarterback Jake Coker, Heisman Trophy tailback Derrick Henry and inside linebacker Reggie Ragland, its defensive leader.

"We want everybody who has a get-it-done type of attitude, and those who can get it done have to take ownership for people who aren't getting it done," Saban said. "This is a work in progress, and players have to accept roles. This is not something that just happens.

"The team chemistry last year happened over time, and we'll see how this team develops over time."

Of the three new assistants, two have worked with the Crimson Tide before. New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was Alabama's secondary coach from 2010 to 2012, and new secondary coach Derrick Ansley was a graduate assistant in 2010 and 2011.

Offensive line coach Brent Key, who played at Georgia Tech and worked last season at UCF, was the lone newcomer to Tuscaloosa.

"We interviewed Brent when we hired an offensive line coach three years ago," Saban said. "I was very impressed with him and thought he would be someone we would want to hire if we had the opportunity. We felt like this was a good fit for him. He has a lot of experience, and he has a lot of energy and enthusiasm and has a great reputation.

"We've been pleased so far with the progress we've made with him."

Tide tidbits

Cornerback Tony Brown, who was suspended for Alabama's two postseason games last season, practiced Friday but is facing additional suspensions according to Saban. Receiver Robert Foster, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, practiced in a noncontact jersey. Alabama's homecoming will be Oct. 1 against Kentucky.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.