Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Battered Bama: Jones, Fluker, Upshaw and Jordan all coping with injuries

AL.com- Izzy Gould, Tuscaloosa Bureau

TUSCALOOSA - Alabama's best offensive weapon Saturday could miss this week's homecoming game against Ole Miss, and possibly more.

Crimson Tide wide receiver Julio Jones fractured his left hand Saturday during a 35-21 loss at South Carolina. The injury was surgically repaired with a plate and screws, coach Nick Saban said during his weekly Monday press conference.

And there was more.

Tide right tackle D.J. Fluker will miss at least a week, and possibly longer with a severe groin injury. Jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw will probably be slow for a day or two with an unspecified injury, and Chris Jordan continues to cope with a hamstring injury.

Jones is coming off the best game of the season with 8 receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown. He also made the final catch of the game, a 26-yard reception from quarterback Greg McElroy.

Saban said the team will assess the star receiver's status again Wednesday.

"Nobody really knew it was broken," Saban said. "He did it in the first half, and played the entire game with it. When he was X-rayed on Saturday evening we decided the best thing to do was to plate it and screw it. ...The prognosis for it is as soon as he can tolerate using his hand, which will be the palm of his hand he's cleared to play. That may be three or four days, it may be a week. I don't know."

McElroy said he saw Jones in the training room Monday morning.

"He was still a little bit out of it after the surgery," McElroy said. "He's a warrior, he'll be back and is going to give his best effort to get back on the field as soon as possible."

Jones is the Tide's top receiver with twice as many receptions (32) and almost twice as many yards (440) than the next most productive receiver, Darius Hanks (16 catches, 285 yards, 2 touchdowns). Jones also leads the Tide with three touchdown receptions. He also had five punt returns for 44 yards, and a 36-yard kick return.

"It's tough (losing him)," McElroy said. "We've been really throwing the ball well together the last few games. He's made some big plays for us. ...In the South Carolina game he made a lot of great plays. ...Our timing's been good and we've been clicking really well so it's disappointing to lose him."

Saban said overall he was pleased with the play of the Tide's other receiving options including Preston Dial, Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks. In all, Tide receivers made 27 catches for 315 yards and two touchdowns against the Gamecocks. Maze has been productive in the punting game with four returns for 62 yards, and a kick return for 31 yards.

"We had some guys open we couldn't get them the ball at times because of pressure," Saban said. "We missed a few, but I thought those guys did a really good job. ...Those guys are playing extremely well."

Saban said Maze ran some of the plays typical run by Jones, and was productive doing it. He had four receptions for 41 yards, a punt returned 28 yards and a kick returned 31 yards.

"We have confidence in our other guys," Saban said. "We're pleased with that entire group."

Fluker will miss at least a week from what Saban called a "pretty severe" groin injury. Fluker started the game, and suffered the injury in the third quarter before leaving the game. He was spotted on crutches afterward before leaving Brice-Williams Stadium.

Saban said Alfred McCullough will move up as a starter. McCullough has played in 11 career games including four this season.

"He did a good job coming off the bench cold like that," Tide center William Vlachos said. "...They're blowing and going. I think he did a good job. He's a valuable guy to have if somebody goes down like that. I'm not sure what D.J.'s status is for next week, but Alfred did a really good job when he went in."


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