Alabama LB Trey DePriest (33)
The one thing you want as a head coach during spring practice is to get through it healthy.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban didn't get his wish.
"We just decided to go ahead and fix it before it got bad," head coach Nick Saban told Gribble. "It's just a stress fracture, which will take less time to heal."
Not ideal, by any means. But it does mean that Alabama is relatively thin at linebacker for the remainder of spring practice, which will conclude with the annual spring game on April 20 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
With DePriest now out, the Crimson Tide are down to just two inside linebackers, Tana Patrick and Reggie Ragland. Dillon Lee and Ryan Anderson, both of whom were sent home and missed Alabama's appearance in the BCS National Championship Game in Miami in January, will move over and get some work there for the rest of spring, .
"Ryan Anderson and Dillon Lee both have had really good springs," Saban said. "They're both playing well. When Trey was not there, we really had five outside backers and were a little short at inside backer."
DePriest's injury will present some problems as spring practice winds down, but the silver lining is that Lee and Anderson will get plenty of reps. Depth is the foundation of Saban's success at the Capstone, and now's the time to build that depth.
Long term, it won't be an issue. You know what you're getting from DePriest, who finished last season with 59 tackles, including four tackles for loss.
Coupled with fellow inside linebacker C.J. Mosley and outside linebackers Adrian Hubbard and Xzavier Dickson, Alabama will have one of the most talented groups of linebackers in the country.
DePriest probably could use a little more seasoning if he wants to become a superstar, but making sure he's healthy for the upcoming season is job No. 1. Letting some of the younger guys get some reps, especially two outside linebackers who will be moving inside, will only help the team moving forward.
After all, having outside linebackers who can jump inside when needed will give Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart options.
That's a scary thought if you're an opposing offensive coordinator.