Tide's battle at left tackle may decide other positions

Anniston StarApril 11, 2014 

Alabama Football 2014 Spring Practice

Alabama offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio (77) works through drills during the Crimson Tide's third 2014 Spring football practice, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt)


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- While Alabama coach Nick Saban isn't a fan of the words "depth" and "chart" being used together, he'll occasionally give some insight into which players are competing at certain positions if the right questions are asked.

During his Wednesday news conference, a simple question about how offensive lineman Brandon Green's development revealed much more.

"I think he's done very well. He's certainly improved a lot as a player," Saban said of Greene. "He's in competition with Cam Robinson right now at left tackle. Cam gets better and better every day. Brandon has made a significant amount of improvement. I think when the spring is over we'll decide where Brandon Greene can help our team the best. Shepherd is back playing right tackle and Grant Hill is his backup. And those are the four guys that will primarily, this week, have been working at tackle. Leon Brown has been working there some. We've moved Leon to guard. We want to give him a good opportunity at guard and see how he develops."

In that answer, Saban revealed the team's plan for Greene, freshman Cam Robinson, Austin Shepherd, Grant Hill and Leon Brown.

During the media's viewing period, Greene has worked at left tackle with the first group while Robinson worked with the second or third group. Shepherd has consistently been at right tackle, but spent a few practices working at left tackle. Hill has seen time at center and Brown has worked at left tackle, right tackle and right guard.

Spring is definitely the time for experiments, and the Tide has moved its offensive linemen to various spots to test players versatility.

The battle at left tackle may prove to be the most important. If Greene or Robinson is able to lock down that spot, the other positions fall into place with three starters -- left guard Arie Kouandjio, center Ryan Kelly and Shepherd at right tackle -- from last year's team back.

As for Robinson, he has impressed. Howard said Robinson could be one of the breakout guys to watch during the Tide's A-Day game.

Greene, who spent last season at tight end, has drawn some rave reviews as well.

"When Brandon first moved to tight end with us, he was a big guy. He could really block," tight end O.J. Howard said. "He taught me some things, because he was an O-lineman at first so he knew how to block really well. I taught him some things running routes because he really didn't know how to run routes.

"It was pretty impressive for a guy that big to play tight end. He's really athletic for his size. He was impressive."

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