TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Terrence Cody’s absence from practice lasted only three days while battling the flu.
Alabama’s All-American nose guard was back at the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields on Saturday afternoon — seven days before opening the season against Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome.
Cody’s first practice back wasn’t an easy one.
Teammates gave him a hard time when a drill gave him trouble during the media-viewing period at the beginning of the workout.
“He’s a little rusty,” one of his fellow defensive linemen shouted out after a coach made him repeat the exercise. “That’s all it is.”
But while Cody returned, three others were held out of practice with a fever. Alfred McCullough was among the group coach Nick Saban listed that also included Marquis Maze, who has been competing for a starting job at wide receiver, and freshman defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore.
“We went through all the protocols, and if a guy has a fever, they’re not here,” Saban said. “We’re trying to manage not to have too much of this.”
The coach said four or five players were being quarantined earlier in the week after catching the flu that has been making the rounds on the Tuscaloosa campus. Cody was the most notable of the original group.
Saban said the 355-pound nose guard “wasn’t quite 100 percent, but he worked his way through it and did everything, including the running at the end.”
Published reports indicate more than 50 University of Alabama students had contracted the H1N1 virus, commonly known as the swine flu. The strain that sickened the football players was not disclosed.
Worse than practice
Several players said they would rather practice through nagging injuries than spend time on the sideline with strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran.
“It’s pretty tough over there,” wide receiver Darius Hanks said. “I heard it’s worse than practice.”
Cornerback Kareem Jackson agreed.
“I won’t let myself miss practice,” he said. “As much as I might talk about it, you better believe every day I’ll be out there full throttle.”
One of the stars of Alabama’s next recruiting class shined on national television Friday night.
Phillip Sims, one of the top-ranked quarterbacks in the nation, completed 15 of 19 passes for 265 yards to lead his Oscar Smith (Va.) High School to a 27-13 victory over Venice (Fla.) in a game televised on ESPNU.
Sims threw a 17-yard touchdown pass in the game, according to the Virginian Pilot.
Scout.com ranks Sims the fifth-best quarterback in the nation while Rivals.com slots him at No. 4.
Practice in the rain
Despite a mid-afternoon cloudburst that soaked Tuscaloosa, the football team did not move to its indoor practice facility.
The decision, Saban said, was made by the players who seemed to enjoy the downpour.
The team will get today off before beginning game-week preparations for the Sept. 5 opener against Virginia Tech.