Alabama junior quarterback Jalen Hurts is expected to miss practice this week after undergoing a minor procedure for a high ankle sprain sustained on Saturday against Tennessee, coach Nick Saban told reporters in Birmingham on Monday.
“Jalen actually twisted his ankle when he scored the touchdown,” Saban said. “He stayed in the game. Nobody really knew about it.”
Hurts entered the game in the third quarter and played three drives. He scrambled for a 21-yard touchdown on the second drive to give the Crimson Tide its final score of 58-21 against the Volunteers. He stayed in the game afterward, though redshirt freshman Mac Jones relieved him midway through the drive as Alabama salted away the game.
Hurts has backed up sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, playing in all eight games this season. Hurts has completed 39 of his 53 passes for 589 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions. He has also rushed for 136 yards, scoring his only rushing touchdown at Tennessee. In recent games, Hurts has appeared in a package alongside Tagovailoa. He has one reception for seven yards.
Hurts could be back in time to practice before Alabama’s top-five showdown with LSU on Nov. 3.
“I think he’ll be out for one week, probably this week, this bye week and probably will be ready to start working again next week,” Saban said. “But it’ll be a medical decision as to how fast he can come back. We’ve had other players have a similar situation and been able to recover fairly quickly.”
Tagovailoa took a hit on his final play before leaving last Saturday’s game but could have continued to play if needed, Saban said afterward.
There was no update on the status of sophomore receiver DeVonta Smith, who pulled his hamstring in Alabama’s win over Missouri on Oct. 13. Saban said last week Smith hadn’t practiced as of Wednesday. He did not play against Tennessee. Smith is one of four Alabama players with at least 350 receiving yards this season. He has 21 receptions for 409 yards and three touchdowns.
“All the guys that have been injured, we’re not pushing this week,” Saban said. “So, we won’t really be able to make any kind of judgment or assessment on that probably until next so we can see where he is, how he can practice and what he can do at that time.”
Other players can take the opportunity to rest up during Alabama’s idle week, but Saban still wants them to be focused. The Crimson Tide has only lost one game in November in the last four seasons.
“You obviously want your players to get healthy, you want them to get some rest, you want them to get their strength back, hydrate, do all those things,” Saban said. “But you also want them to focus on improving.
“So, that means when we are practicing, everybody’s got to challenge themselves to improve and do the things that they need to do to get better. You kind of get remembered for what you do in November, in this league especially, especially with the way our schedule comes out. So, I think it’s really important and imperative that the players have that right mindset and not just, ‘Bye means I’m checking out for the week,’ because I don’t think you can really create any momentum that way individually or collectively as a team.”
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