May 4, 2006

Spring Review: Tide OL returns almost intact

For a unit that returns four out of five starters, Alabama's offensive line headed into spring drills with plenty of questions to answer. At the top of the list was an area that plagued the offense over the last month of the 2005 season: Pass protection.

Some were of the belief that spring practice would mean spring cleaning at the tackle positions, but neither Tatum nor Capps were supplanted as starters. Some of that speaks to their improved play, and some of it speaks to the lack of quality depth that has limited competition across the front in recent years. The good news is that the blow-bys Tide defensive ends made a part of their daily routine a year ago weren't as prevalent this time around.

With Cody Davis sidelined by shoulder surgery, Johnson got all the reps behind Capps on the left side. Johnson is far from polished when it comes to the finer points of the position, but he's shown enough to feel confident about projecting him as a future starter. In most instances technique can be taught, but the desire to bury --not just block-- defenders can not. That sums up Johnson's game at this point.

Due to a lack of numbers, Johnson and Drew Davis also worked with the third-team offense. Davis has the frame coaches look for in a tackle, but he needs to continue to get stronger.

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