Alabama football team experiments with position changes on defense

The two-time defending national champion Alabama football team began spring practice on Saturday and the biggest news from the 20 minute media viewing period were the position changes on the defensive side of the ball.

Running back Dee Hart and wide receivers Christion Jones and Cyrus Jones worked out with the cornerbacks during the session. But head coach Nick Saban noted that these and other changes are nothing more than experiments.

“That’s all they are, is experiments,” Saban said. “Just to see how they can do. There's two things that you need from experimenting with a player, whether a guy can do something if you need him in the fall and if something bad happens at a position in the fall, you have some basic knowledge of what he would have to do to be able to fill in for you if you need for him to. These are not permanent moves, none of them. They're experiments.”

Hart, recruited as a five-star running back, wore a black no-contact jersey and is recovering from his second ACL tear. Christion Jones, who continued to wear a white jersey and split time at wide receiver on Saturday, has seen substantial time at wide out and in the return game during his two years at Alabama while Cyrus Jones saw time as a punt returner as a freshman last season.

Saban said he isn’t sure if the team is looking to make any of the changes permanent, but noted that each player had played defensive back before.

“We're looking to see if any of those guys can help us, and if this would be a better circumstance for how much they would be able to contribute to our team,” Saban said. “The first thing you've got to do to determine that is, 'Can the guy do it? Does he have the physical attributes to be able to do it, and help you in some role?' I've been encouraged by all those guys… And I don't think there's any way that all those guys are going to end up on defense. Maybe one. Maybe two, if they both have roles… It gives you a little bit of an insurance policy when a guy can make that transition because he's learned it at some point in time before. That's part of what we're trying to do as well.”

Linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive back John Fulton wore black no-contact jerseys as well. Fulton is recovering from off season toe surgery. Saban said he is “pretty questionable” for contact during spring practice, but should be ready for the summer drills and fall practices.

Mosley, who led the team in tackles last season, is recovering from surgery on his right shoulder. Mosley said he is unsure if he’ll be able to hit during spring practice, but said he’s feeling good.

“I don't really know how things are going to work out,” Mosley said. “I just have to keep rehabbing every day, work on getting better, learning plays and helping people out.”

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