TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday that starting right guard Alphonse Taylor is “pretty questionable” for the Tennessee game Saturday.
Saban said the team wouldn’t rush Taylor (concussion) or linebacker Reuben Foster (concussion) back before they are ready.
“Reuben was back at practice today, and Alphonse Taylor is not so I would say he’s probably pretty questionable for this game,” Saban said. “There’s no decision that has been made. We have a protocol for every injury a guy has. We’re not going to put any player on the field until he fulfills the protocol, we know he can be safe and not be at risk for any further injury. That’ll be the case with Reuben as well.”
No. 1 Alabama travels to Knoxville, Tenn., for a date with No. 9 Tennessee on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Foster and Taylor both suffered concussions in Alabama’s 49-30 win at Arkansas last Saturday. Foster sustained his injury after hitting his head on the ground. It is unclear what happened to Taylor.
Foster returned to practice Wednesday after not being spotted during the media viewing period Tuesday. Foster still wore a black, non-contact jersey. He participated in all of the individual and team drills. All signs point to Foster being able to play Saturday at Tennessee.
Foster leads Alabama’s defense with 37 total tackles (19 solo). The senior standout also has 2.5 tackles for loss and 3 quarterback hurries.
With Foster back, Rashaan Evans spent time with the outside linebackers when Alabama worked on its nickel package. Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton were the inside linebackers in nickel with the first-team defense. Keith Holcombe and freshman Lyndell “Mack” Wilson were the inside linebackers with the second nickel group.
Taylor was not spotted during the media viewing period Wednesday. Taylor also was missing during the viewing period Tuesday.
With Taylor out, Lester Cotton continued to work at right guard with the first-team offensive line. Cotton has started two games this season so he’ll be ready if needed.
Saban said whether or not the two players play is not his call.
“I got nothing to do with it. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a part of the medical staff,” Saban said. “I never determine whether a player plays or doesn’t play. There is a number of things a player has to do. The medical people, the doctors, the trainers and all that put them through the protocol and they decide when they can play or can not play. I have never made a decision about whether a player plays or doesn’t play whether it’s in the game or right now.
“I have too much respect for the players and their futures and their careers to ever put a player at risk. Most of the time, I’m telling players ‘Look, I know you want to play.’ I ask a guy even when the medical staff says a guy can play, I say ‘Can you play? Are you ready to play?’ Most of the time a player really always wants to play and says he can. But the question is, can you go out there and do your job like you want to and do you feel comfortable and confident you can do that regardless of what the issue is? That’s always something, to me, that’s important from a player perspective regardless of what his medical circumstance is.”