TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama football coach Nick Saban provided injury updates on multiple key Crimson Tide players ahead of the Iron Bowl.
For the first time since their injuries, linebackers Terrell Lewis (elbow), Christian Miller (biceps) and Mack Wilson (foot) were spotted at practice during the media viewing period on Wednesday. The trio all wore black, non-contact jerseys. Offensive guard Ross Pierschbacher (ankle) was in a black, non-contact jersey as well.
Miller wore a protective padding/brace on his left arm while Lewis wore a protective padding/brace on his right arm. The duo has been out since the opener against Florida State.
“Look, all these guys are in a different stage of rehabilitation, rehab, whatever you want to call it,” Saban said Wednesday. “They’re all able to practice to some degree. I can’t sit here and tell you any of them are healthy enough to play in the game. Not healthy enough is probably not the right word — able to practice enough to be able to be in the kind of playing shape they need to be in to be able to go out there and do their job.
“That’s going to be a decision that we have to make from: A) a medical standpoint, B) how much are they able to do, can they be effective, and C) do they feel like they can go out there and do their job relative to where they’ve been effective and how they’ve been able to be effective in practice. And that’s not really going to happen until the game.
“You can keep asking me about it all you want, but that’s basically all I can tell you.”
No. 1 Alabama plays at No. 6 Auburn on Saturday. Kickoff has been scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS. The winner of the Iron Bowl will claim the SEC West Division and earn the right to play Georgia in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 2.
Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos (pulled muscle) is working his way back from injury as well.
“I think he’ll be a game-time decision, but we’re hopeful that he’ll be better,” Saban said of Pappanastos. “We really won’t know until the game.”
Pappanastos went through warmups prior to the Mercer game, but did not make an appearance. Punter JK Scott handled all of the kicking duties. Scott didn’t attempt a field goal, but he was perfect on his eight extra-point attempts.
Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is likely further along than any of the other injured players. Fitzpatrick came up for interviews on Monday, and said he was 100 percent.
“Minkah’s been practicing, I’ll say that,” Saban said.
Fitzpatrick didn’t dress for the Mercer game. He was limited all week in practice last week, and the team decided to shut him down. Fitzpatrick was spotted in street clothes on the sideline cheering and coaching up teammates, particularly those in the secondary.
Miller and Lewis, who were lost in the opener against Florida State, were two of Alabama’s top outside linebackers. Lewis finished with 5 tackles, including 1 for loss, against the Seminoles. Miller had 3 tackles, including 1 for loss.
Pierschbacher missed the Mercer game with a high ankle sprain. He was replaced by senior J.C. Hassenauer, who was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week in his first career start.
Wilson left in the first half of the LSU game and did not return. He had to be carted to the locker room and later had foot surgery. Wilson made a splash as a sophomore, tying for the team lead with 3 interceptions.
Saban said the injured players have provided leadership for their backups while not being able to play.
“All those guys have done a really good job,” Saban said. “I can’t say anything but positive things about their disposition toward their work ethic to try to get back, how they’ve tried to support their teammates.
“Shaun Dion [Hamilton] is out there coaching guys just about every day. When Minkah couldn’t practice he was coaching guys every day. All the guys have tried to stay involved as much as they could and do a good job in terms of what they need to do to get back, but also what they can do to help the players who are playing.”