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March 29, 2010TUSCALOOSA _ With each spring practice many of the University of Alabama football players having been finding themselves in unfamiliar surroundings as the coaching staff continues to experiment and mix-and-match on both sides of the ball.
With just one more practice before the first scrimmage that seemed to rise to a new level Monday. For example, Chris Jordan practiced at strong-side linebacker, otherwise known as Sam, for the first time.
"I kind of liked it," he said. "Every play, contact."
On offense, D.J. Fluker worked with the first unit at right tackle while Chance Warmack was doing likewise at left guard. So the first unit, from left to right, was James Carpenter, Warmack, David Ross (for injured center William Vlachos), Barrett Jones and Fluker.
The second unit was Tyler Love, Anthony Steen, Brian Motley, John Michael Boswell and Alfred McCullough.
Meanwhile, Jerrell Harris went through individual drills with the interior linebackers and paired with Dont'a Hightower, who was in the middle. Harris also took snaps at the money spot in obvious passing situations.
"Everyone's moving around," Jordan said. "Everyone's playing Mike, everybody's playing Will, money. So I'm pretty much everywhere right now."
As Rolando McClain's backup in the middle last season Jordan played in 14 games but with no starts. He had 12 tackles, including a team-high six against North Texas.
The previous season he was one of 16 true freshmen to see playing time and backed up Dont'a Hightower at weakside linebacker.
"Right now I really don't know where I'll end up but I'm pretty sure Coach Saban will make decision and put me where I'm the best fit," Jordan diplomatically said.
Jordan still talks to McClain on a regular basis and doesn't take possibly replacing him lightly.
"Good role model," he said. "If you need help he'll sit down with you and help you with schemes and stuff like that. He's like Coach Saban on the field."
Jordan, Hightower and Nico Johnson appear to be the strongest candidates to fill the two inside spots linebacker spots and all three appear poised to get significant playing time. Tana Patrick has also been a fixture on the top two units.
"As far as calls and coverages I'm right there," Jordan said. "Ro, he played at a different level, though. He could see the play before it happened and stuff like that. I kind of have to sharpen my instincts to be as good as Ro. He was a brilliant guy on the field."
How do you get there? "Just a lot of film work and studying," he said.
Count nose tackle Josh Chapman among those impressed by the younger defensive linemen.
"(Darrington) Sentiomore looks great," Chapman said. "He's fast and aggressive. Brandon Moore and Brandon Lewis, Anthony Orr. They're all pretty good players and they're learning fast. I feel like they're learning faster than we learned."
Chapman and former Hoover teammate Kerry Murphy, who had to first attend Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia to qualify academically, are positioned to man the two nose tackle positions which rotate throughout games.
"We go way back," Chapman said. "He keeps me working and I keep him working.
"I'm proud of what he did because I know what he had to go through."
Chapman is also looking for a big season from end Marcell Dareus.
"Strong, fast, and now he knows that he's strong and fast," said Chapman, who added that Dareus has replaced Terrence Cody as the person who keeps things loose in the locker room.
When asked if he was doing stiff-arms and spin moves like against Texas, he quipped: "Dance moves."
Monday was the Tide's sixth of 15 spring practices. The team will work in shells Wednesday. Friday's scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium will be closed to the public.
Reserve quarterback Star Jackson missed his third spring practice due to academic reasons.
Brandon Gibson was at safety for the second consecutive practice. He and fellow wide receiver Kendell Kelly continue to get some work there to learn the position as a precautionary measure.
Chapman estimated his team-best bench press to be in the "high 500s," but said others like Anthony Steen and William Vlachos are closing in on him.