University of Alabama

Alabama football: Defensive end Marcell Dareus expects to be ready to play

DE intends to be tougher than pain

By MICHAEL CASAGRANDE

Special to the Ledger-Enquirer

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Ice bag taped tight to his left ankle, Marcell Dareus walked with a slight limp Wednesday evening.

Injuries, though, are nothing new to the Alabama defensive end, and he doesn’t think this one will interfere with his Saturday night plans. He expects to be on the field when Florida comes to Bryant-Denny Stadium at 8 p.m. Saturday in one of the more anticipated games of the season.

The bum ankle won’t be much of a concern by then. Coach Nick Saban said Dareus wasn’t at full strength yet but is making strides after rolling the ankle in the first half of the Arkansas game. With progress there, he will have “a pretty good chance to play in the game,” Richt said.

Dareus likes his odds too. A day after the injury, he could not push off with his left foot, but now he can.

“It’s not even a question,” he said. “I can come off pretty good right now.”

He practiced without the heavy tape job he used in Monday’s practice and walked without the limp he had two days earlier.

Compared to the injuries he dealt with in the BCS national championship game, his current issues are minor.

Talking about the issues for the first time at length, Dareus revealed he played through a rolled right ankle, a deep right thigh bruise and a hyperextended left knee and elbow.

“That’s pretty much it,” he said.

In spite of the list of ailments, Dareus was named defensive MVP and returned a fumble for a touchdown with an athletic spin move thrown in for good measure.

“Coach Saban always says you can’t coach toughness,” Dareus said. “You can be the most athletic player out there, the fastest player out there, but when it comes to you being hurt and still fighting through the pain, it’s a mind thing. If you think you can play, you can play. If you can block out the pain, you can still go out there and play to the best of your ability.”

His most recent injury could have been made worse by some questionable blocking by Arkansas lineman Wade Grayson. Video of a low, late block on his already injured ankle is on the Internet and shows Dareus taking a shot after the play ended.

Dareus said he asked Grayson whether he was trying to take him out of the game, “and he just looked at me crazy.”

“That’s how some players play,” Dareus said. “It doesn’t really bother me. It just shows the ignorance of some players when they see someone down and they still try to kick them when there’s no reason to.”

The same thing occurred earlier in the game, but Dareus was able to avoid the dirty block.

“I knew what type of player he was before the game started,” Dareus said.

Tide running back Trent Richardson also wore a protective boot to the media room Wednesday afternoon but said it is nothing major.

“I just got stepped on,” he said. “I just do it to keep pressure off it.”

The status of Florida’ star running back Jeff Demps is a little more questionable.

Florida’s speedy leading rusher, who also runs sprints on the Gators’ track and field team, shed his walking boot Wednesday after reinjuring his left foot Saturday against Kentucky.

Meyer called it a sprained foot after X-rays came back negative. Monday, the coach said he thought Demps would play Saturday, and by Wednesday he listed his star back as “probable.”

Meyer was expecting Demps to participate in limited practice action Wednesday before getting more reps today and Friday.

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