Najee Harris and Brian Robinson will have a delayed start to the 2019-20 season.
The Alabama Crimson Tide junior running backs have been suspended for the first half of the season opener against Duke Saturday "for missing a team function," AL.com's Joseph Goodman reported Tuesday.
Rivals.com reported later Tuesday night that junior receiver DeVonta Smith and redshirt junior linebacker Terrell Lewis, both starters, have also been suspended for the same reason.
Harris and Robinson are the Crimson Tide's top two backs after Damien Harris—the team's leading rusher last season—and Joshua Jacobs left for the NFL. Harris rushed for 783 yards and four touchdowns in 2018, while Robinson is primed to take on an expanded role in the offense this season after a modest 272 yards and two touchdowns last year.
Alabama's backfield has already experienced a much larger setback with five-star freshman running back Trey Sanders expected to out for the entire 2019 season with a "significant foot injury."
As a result, Alabama will presumably lean on redshirt freshman Jerome Ford and freshman Keilan Robinson.
However, Redshirt sophomore Chadarius Townsend is listed as a wide receiver on the team's official website, but he also saw action at running back, defensive back and backup quarterback in the spring. With Ford spraining his ankle during a scrimmage on Aug. 17, head coach Nick Saban could utilize Townsend at running back.
The suspensions shouldn't hamper Alabama against Duke, especially with reigning Heisman Trophy finalist Tua Tagovailoa under center. If need be, the junior quarterback is also capable of boosting the run game as he had 190 yards and five touchdowns on the ground last season.
Alabama and Duke are scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff on Saturday from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.