The injury report with the University of Alabama football team is lengthy and mixed.
In the worst-case scenario, UA could be without three starters — not including starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — for Saturday morning’s game against Western Carolina, plus one critical rotation player at a position already heavily dinged by injury.
That rotation player is defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis, who is dealing with an undisclosed injury behind injured starters Raekwon Davis (sprained ankle) and D.J. Dale (twisted knee). UA coach Nick Saban called them all, “very questionable,” for the game.
Davis was not on the practice field during media viewing periods Tuesday or Wednesday. Dale and Mathis were on the field both days but not participating in drills.
Their absence creates opportunities for drastic playing time increases for freshmen Braylen Ingraham and Ishmael Sopsher, among others.
“We’ll see how they’re playing,” Saban said. “They’re all getting an opportunity to play this week, they’re getting a lot of reps in practice. I’m not disappointed and their effort has been good, they’re trying to learn. Some of them have been on scout team all year and sometimes you develop more on scout team than you do when you’re a backup player that doesn’t get many reps, because you’re going up against good competition every day.
“I’m kind of anxious to see how they respond, to be honest with you.”
Saban used the very questionable term for wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (bruised ribs), as well. Ruggs was not on the field in Tuesday’s practice viewing periods but was there Wednesday, just not participating.
On the long-term injury front, freshman placekicker Will Reichard is not back to kicking yet.
“I think after the last time, when we thought he was making good progress and then he had a setback, I think from a medical standpoint they’re really trying to make sure this time,” Saban said. “He’s done a little more each week. I don’t think he’s ready to kick right now, but we’ll just keep trying to work him in.”
Saban also said defensive end LaBryan Ray, out since the South Carolina game with a foot injury, has, “come a long way in his rehab.”
The final injury mentioned by Saban was the season-ending knee injury to fifth-year senior linebacker Joshua McMillon. Saban said he believes UA has a chance to get him a sixth year of eligibility with a medical redshirt, a process that will take place after the season.
Saban continued his daily routine of conversations with Tagovailoa, who has yet to return to Tuscaloosa after his hip surgery Monday. Saban said he Facetimed Tagovailoa today, after Tagovailoa had his nose fixed and had not shaved in a couple of days.
Saban joked, “I’d like to say you look good, but…”
Saban says Tagovailoa remains in high spirits, even in the face of a grueling rehab process to come.
“I think all the indications from the surgery have been really positive from a medical standpoint and I think he realizes the recovery program that he’s going to have and the difficulty that he will have,” Saban said. “I think he’s got a really good understanding of what he’s looking at. He’s always been a great guy to overcome adversity and he’s got a really positive attitude about it. We’re encouraged by his positive energy.
“As I’ve said before, I call him to cheer him up and he usually cheers me up. That’s just who he is.”
Other practice notes
The injury news at the top of the notebook was leading the practice report before Saban’s press conference, but that practice report also has a recent focus for the outside linebackers, the second-team offensive line and the three special guests at Wednesday’s practice, two NFL people and a UA legend.
Click here for that.
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson