Drake Out For Season, Others To Miss Several Weeks
Alabama may still feel some lingering effects in the coming weeks from Saturday's 23-17 loss at Ole Miss after coach Nick Saban announced Monday that three key contributors will all out be out for an extended period of time.
Running back Kenyan Drake, linebacker Denzel Devall and center Ryan Kelly will all miss several games due to injuries sustained against Ole Miss. Drake, who Saban suffered the worst injury of the three, has had surgery and is likely done for the year with a broken leg that will probably take "8-10 weeks before he can really start doing things that would allow him to be able to think about being able to play football again."
"They sort of break your leg and your ankle is dislocated and you pin the two together," Saban said, describing the medical procedure based off his prior experience of suffering a similar leg injury when he was a player. "But that's not a lot of medical expertise there. I think that will be a better question for the medical staff."
Devall also had surgery for a high ankle sprain and will miss three to four weeks and Kelly will likely be out for "at least a couple weeks" with a sprained knee.
"All of these guys have been really good players for us and they made a great contribution to our team in many different ways," Saban said. "As always, when you lose players, it creates opportunities for other players. This is obviously a situation where we’re going to need some other guys to step up big to take the roles of what these guys have been able to accomplish and do."
Dillon Lee will likely fill the void left by at outside linebacker, while redshirt freshman Bradley Bozeman will be the team's starting center, followed by true freshmen Josh Casher and J.C. Hassenauer.
Drake, who is perhaps the Crimson Tide's most versatile player on offense, leads Alabama in touchdowns scored this season with six (four rushing, two receiving) and is second on the team in receiving yards behind only Amari Cooper with 159.
"Kenyan has a lot of production for us and has done a really good job all year long," said Saban, who also described Drake's injury as being similar to the one Derrick Henry suffered in spring practice in 2013. "I don't think there's any question about the fact that when you do lose a player like that it does have some impact.
"But I do think we have players that can do those things, and they're going to get the opportunity to do it and we're going to have to have some other people step up."
Alabama is now down to three healthy running backs -- T.J. Yeldon, Henry and Altee Tenpenny -- after Saban announced last week that redshirt freshman Tyren Jones tore a tendon in his finger last week that required surgery and will force him to miss several weeks. Fullback Jalston Fowler, who began his Crimson Tide career as a running back, is another option.
Fowler, who was lost for the season early in 2012 with a torn ACL, said Drake wrote No. 45 -- Fowler's jersey number -- on his tape for the remainder of that season in honor of him during his injury. Now Fowler said he will likely return the favor and write Drake's No. 17 on his own tape.
"... We know we’ve got to step it up for Drake," Fowler said. "We’ll probably dedicate the rest of the season to him because we lost him."
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze announced Monday that he has suspended safety Trae Elston for the first half against Texas A&M for kicking at Drake on the play he broke his leg, according to the Clarion-Ledger's Hugh Kellenberger.
Drake, on the ground, after he was tackled on the play appeared to have been kicked by Elston, though it is unclear how much contact was actually made, if at all.
Freeze informed the Southeastern Conference of the suspension, which they will uphold, on Monday. No further punishment will be handed down by the SEC on Elston for the incident. (Warning: Watch the video of gruesome Drake's leg injury, as well as Elston's kick here.)
Offensive lineman Grant Hill, who missed all of last week's practice due to illness and the Ole Miss game, is "still ill," according to Saban.
"We’re hopeful to get him back at some in time this week," he said. "But we’re kind of leaving that pretty much up to him and the medical staff to make that decision."
Watch Saban's full Monday press conference, plus player interviews, below. To keep up to date with all Alabama football and other news, subscribe to Tide 99.1's YouTube channel:
Fullback Jalston Fowler:
Defensive end Jonathan Allen:
Offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio:
Linebacker Reggie Ragland: