Junior linebacker Terrell Lewis, who returned to practice this week, has not been medically cleared to play in games, coach Nick Saban said on Wednesday. Lewis has been participating in the individual drills during Alabama’s practices this week but has not taken any contact. He suffered an ACL injury in July and has not played this season.

“This is just the next phase in his rehab,” Saban said. “Every player goes through, ‘OK, I can straight-line run, I can run on a treadmill, I can start to cut. Now I can start to do football-related stuff.’ But that does not at all mean that he’s been cleared yet to play football or even has it even been discussed that he will play football. So this is just the next phase of his rehab in terms of what he needs to start doing. When he passes this phase we’ll go to the next phase. And it’s a medical decision about when he might be ready to play. But it’s certainly not any time soon in terms of the game coming up, for sure.”

It’s the second straight year Lewis suffered an injury and missed an extensive portion of the season before returning to the team late.

He had an elbow injury in Alabama’s 2017 season opener against Florida State and missed 10 games but played in the Crimson Tide’s last three games. He finished that year with 16 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. He was never ruled out for the full 2018 season even after his injury in July.

“We have an outstanding medical staff, Dr. Cain, Dr. Andrews, the whole team of people here, Jeff Allen and all the training staff,” Saban said. “Not only do they do a great job of taking care of our players, but they do a really great job in rehab and working in conjunction with Coach Cochran to get guys where they need to be – so they have an opportunity to get back on the field and be productive as soon as it’s safe for them.”

If Lewis plays this season, he’d still be able to redshirt this season and enter 2019 as a redshirt junior.

Lewis has posted videos of his recovery process on social media throughout the fall. A post on his Twitter account on Sunday seemed to hint that he was close to a return, though teammates were still surprised to see him participate in practice on Monday.

“It was shock for me because I didn’t know,” defensive tackle Quinnen Williams said. “But just seeing how hard he worked all season, seeing how much passion he played with, not played with but how much passion he had on the sideline. It’s just great to see him back on his feet in general. If he plays this week, if he plays this year or not, just to see a player like that, a physical player, a dynamic player like that, back on his feet after an ACL surgery. So it was just amazing to see him out there.”