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Alabama practices as complete unit for first time


From Special Reports



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama football team practiced as a complete unit for the first time Saturday afternoon after a split session Friday when camp opened. 


The Crimson Tide worked for two hours in shorts and helmets on day two at the Drew-Thomas Practice Facility. 


No. 2 Alabama returns 16 starters for the 2011 season, and coach Nick Saban expects competition to be tough at almost every position. 


"Everybody is out there competing," Saban said. "There are some guys that have experience and have been starters, and they have proven they can play winning football at their position. They have an opportunity to improve. 


"If somebody challenges them and performs better and has better consistency at their position, though, I have no problem playing those guys. There are always opportunities. We are all about playing the best players, not seniority. Just because a guy has been here doesn''t mean somebody else can''t be better than him." 


One position group that features experience and depth is the offensive line. The Crimson Tide return four starters who boast 74 career starts, including two-year starters and preseason first-team All-Southeastern Conference selections Barrett Jones and William Vlachos.  


"We have a lot of depth this year on the line," Jones said. "I think (we have) as much depth as I can remember since I have been here. We have a lot of really good young guys, and a lot of guys that have been here for a while that are playing really good football. I think one thing this does is promote competition on the team, which is always good and is continuously making us better. There are a lot of older guys being pushed by the younger guys, which makes for a better offensive line." 


Alabama''s third practice of fall camp will be today. The Crimson Tide also will hold their annual Fan Day at 2:30 p.m. at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It will be the public''s only chance to see the team before its season opener Sept. 3 against Kent State. 


Fan Day will start with an open practice from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Following practice, student-athletes and coaches will be available for autographs during a 45-minute session on the field. Fans may enter the stadium beginning at 1:30 p.m. through northwest spiral Gate 5 (closest to Wallace Wade Ave.) The line for the autograph session will start at Gate 46.



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