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Four key takeaways from the official Alabama depth chart, and some scoop on what we're hearing from the practice fields:
1) A'Shawn Robinson was listed at noseguard in part because Brandon Ivory is still working his way back into playing time after being suspended, but is was also a situational placement. The Crimson Tide is simply loaded with gifted athletes at the end position, and can thus afford to put the 320-pound Robinson inside more, particularly in nickel situations. Ivory is an average player on the nose, and reserve Darren Lake's development has been slow, however, so Robinson can offer more help inside. UA coach Nick Saban said to look for Ivory at the nose and Robinson at an end spot against opponents that play "regular." Translation: Robinson will play more inside against spread offenses, and more outside against the likes of Arkansas, Florida and LSU.
2) Blake Sims has been getting more reps with the first team in practice early this week, we are told, and is on track to start against West Virginia. For weeks now, Crimson Cover has been consistent in reporting both here and on WVUA that Sims would give transfer Jacob Coker more competition for the starting job than most expected. UA coach Nick Saban essentially confirmed that Monday in admitting that no decision had yet been made on a starter, and that both could play in the opener. Again, look for Sims to start, and at least in the early part of the season, he should get the bulk of the snaps as long as he performs well.
3) At cornerback, sources indicate that Bradley Sylve has had a stronger camp than Cyrus Jones. Both are listed as starters going into week one, but if one of the two is overtaken at some point by Eddie Jackson, who is nearly recovered from his knee injury, or a highly-touted freshman like Tony Brown or Marlon Humphrey, look for Jones to be the one to give way.
4) Sources indicate Dillon Lee should be starting at the Sam position at some point this season, with Denzel Devall operating more at his familiar role as a Jack linebacker.