TUSCALOOSA — Alabama’s offensive line should have two of its more physical players ready for the season opener against West Virginia on Saturday in the Georgia Dome.
Leon Brown (foot) and Dominick Jackson (ankle) have both worked back from their injuries and are reestablishing themselves in the rotation.
“Leon’s to where he’s getting all the reps,” Tide coach Nick Saban said during his Wednesday news conference. “Dominick’s probably getting two-thirds of the reps with his group. Both guys are ready to play in this game.”
Saban said the game will be a little more challenging for Jackson than Brown with Jackson having missed two weeks of preseason practice.
“(It will be tough) trying to get him mentally where he needs to be in the offense because he wasn’t here in the spring,” Saban said. “Leon’s been here for a year and a spring. … I think both of those guys will make a significant contribution to the offensive line at some point and time.”
During the media’s viewing period of practice, Brown has lined up at right guard with the second offense. On Monday, Jackson worked at left tackle with the second group. But on Tuesday and Wednesday, he was spotted at right tackle with the second unit.
Jackson ready if necessary: Cornerback Eddie Jackson has continued to work back from the knee injury he sustained during spring practice.
Saban said Jackson is available for the opener and added that the sophomore would make the trip.
“He’s been getting reps in practice and he’s made a tremendous amount of progress in the last week or 10 days,” Saban said. “I wouldn’t rule out the fact that he can play in this game, but I would rather go into the game thinking we could use him if we needed to rather than pushing him into the game.”
Juniors Cyrus Jones and Bradley Sylve are listed as the starting cornerbacks on Alabama’s depth chart.
Frazier to play: One member of Alabama’s 2014 recruiting class that flew a bit under the radar is defensive lineman Josh Frazier. Frazier is one of 14 true freshmen listed on Alabama’s official depth chart. During the SEC Coaches teleconference, Saban said Frazier has a chance to play this season. He added that Frazier would be on the Tide’s travel squad for the season opener.
“Josh did a really good job for us and he came in a little bit heavy so we had to get some weight off of him,” Saban said. “But he’s very athletic, a very strong, powerful guy. He has been rotating in with the twos and will probably have some opportunity to play this year. As all freshmen, they all struggle to learn what to do so that they can develop the confidence that they need to play fast all the time.”
According to Alabama’s official roster, Frazier is the biggest player on the team, listed at 335 pounds. Coming out of Springdale, Ark., Frazier was a four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 6 defensive tackle, according to 247Sports Composite rankings.
“He’s a bright guy and we’re really encouraged by the quality of player that he is and the future that he has here,” Saban said.
Ball impressing at tight end: Every offseason, Alabama experiments with moving players to a different position. This year’s experiment turned into a permanent move with Dakota Ball moving from defensive line to tight end. Ball is listed as the third tight end on the Tide’s depth chart behind only Brian Vogler and O.J. Howard.
“He brings a lot of intensity,” Vogler said. “He’s the biggest out of all of us, weight-wise. He knows how to hold a point at the edge. He brings a lot of things — and he’s learning, which is great. Each day he’s getting better. Obviously, he asks a lot of questions like a guy who would transition from the defensive side of the ball. It’s not like somebody that’s on offense moving to another position. So he’s still trying to learn terms and concepts.”
Ball is listed at 6-foot-2, 288 pounds. The redshirt sophomore played some tight end in high school.