TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After years of pretty good health, Alabama football was hit hard by injuries in its first two games.
You all know this, but to recap, Alabama lost its two best pass rushers — Christian Miller (biceps) and Terrell Lewis (elbow) — for the season.
Rashaan Evans, Anfernee Jennings and Dylan Moses all missed time, but have since returned.
Losing defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand for the year would have decimated Alabama’s defensive line depth.
Midway through the third quarter, Ole Miss tight end Dawson Knox struck Hand’s left leg with what appeared to be a brutal cut block. Alabama coach Nick Saban deemed it a legal play.
While his stats may be down, Hand knows Alabama’s system and has shown improvement against the run. He’s likely Alabama’s best pass rusher along the defensive line.
Based on what Saban said Monday, Hand shouldn’t be sidelined for too long.
“Da’Shawn Hand has just a MCL strain,” Saban said. “He will be out — probably very doubtful — for at least this game. Maybe more.”
The “maybe more” leaves Alabama with the option to rest Hand for longer if necessary. Alabama has three games — at Texas A&M on Saturday, homecoming vs. Arkansas and Tennessee in Tuscaloosa — this month before its bye week.
Alabama realistically could give Hand all three of those games off, and get him back by LSU on Nov. 4. That’s not to say that it will, but typically ligaments only heal with rest.
Hand still would take mental reps while giving the knee the proper time to heal. That also would allow for some of Alabama’s backups to get more experience.
Junior college transfer Isaiah Buggs should get more reps with the first-team defensive line. He was spotted with the first group during the viewing period of practice Monday. Buggs has come on strong in the past few games now that he’s adjusted to the demands of Alabama football.
Young players like LaBryan Ray and Quinnen Williams would see an uptick in reps. Both are quality pass rushers who should have good careers in Tuscaloosa. Jamar King, who’s shown flashes of being a good pass rusher, should see more playing time as well.
You never want to see any player — especially a senior — get hurt, but this may end up being the best-case scenario for Alabama.
It allows Alabama to see what it has in some of its reserves while also getting Hand back at some point in the near future.
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