Compete and get better. That’s the mantra for a practice or a scrimmage, but an unspoken goal for any scrimmage is to get through the roughly two-hour game-like controlled game healthy.

To that end Saturday afternoon Alabama did as needed.

Two young running backs were voluntarily held out from the scrimmage in sophomore Josh Jacobs and freshman Najee Harris.

“We held two guys out. We held Josh Jacobs out. He’s got a pulled (hamstring), and he may be out for several days,” UA coach Nick Saban said. “I don’t know how long. Those things are difficult to determine. Najee Harris has a slight (hamstring) pull. He’ll be probably be back on Monday.

“I don’t know that we had anybody else. I mean, we had bumps and bruises out there today but I don’t know that we have anybody else that would not practice on Monday.”

Special teams

Senior punter JK Scott had an excellent day of work, as per his usual production over his three-year career.

Otherwise, as Saban noted Thursday evening, the entire specials teams has work to do to get ready.

“JK was fantastic with his punting, he did a really good job,” Saban said. “I think the punting and punt return both were good.

“I think we have things to work on relative to some of the other areas in the kicking game. Missed a couple field goals. We had a couple blocked because we didn’t really have good protection. So we really need to work hard on that part of it. Kickoff and kickoff returns seem to be doing really, really well. I think we have to develop confidence in that area. It’s not just the kicker; it’s the protection, the holder, the whole operation being on time. We need to do a lot of work in that area.”

Offensive progress

No statistics were available from the scrimmage, but judging by Saban’s comments, as might be expected in a first scrimmage, things didn’t go as smoothly as hoped.

“I don’t think we had the rhythm that we’d like to see on offense,” Saban said. “I’m sure he would say the same thing to you. I don’t think that’s a reflection on him. It’s just the way it went today.

“We’ve had good days and we’ve had bad days. Today we made some plays and we made some really good plays. But the consistency wasn’t what it needed to be in terms of finishing drives and playing with the consistency of… There were a lot of good things to build on.”

Young linemen

Asked specifically about true freshmen offensive linemen Alex Leatherwood and Jedrick Wills, Saban said the pair had stood out so far as being players who might make a contribution this year.

“I think both those guys have done well in practice,” Saban said. “We think both of those guys have potential to help us. I think one of the big goals of the scrimmage today is that at some point in time when this camp is over, and we have another week of camp and another scrimmage… We have to say ‘These are the guys that we’re going to invest time to try to develop and help our team.’ I think those two guys are most certainly two guys that at this point you would say that’s probably going to be the case.

“…those two guys are both guys that have shown a lot of potential. One was here in the spring (Leatherwood) and one (Wills) wasn’t. I think both those guys are certainly guys we want to invest a lot of time in this week and get to the point where we see if they can help us this year.”

Reach Aaron Suttles at or at 205-722-0229.