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Tua Tagovailoa returns for Tide practice

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2017

    Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa throws the ball during practice at Bryant–Denny Stadium.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.>> Less than two weeks after surgery, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was back on the field for for the Crimson Tide’s first bowl practice on Friday afternoon.

The Heisman Trophy runner-up did not take part in one footwork drill with the rest of the team’s quarterbacks, ESPN first reported. But the Saint Louis School alumnus was able to participate in the other drills during the media viewing period of practice.

Tagovailoa had surgery on Dec. 2 to help repair a high ankle sprain incurred during the SEC championship game the day before. The sophomore had been dealing with a knee sprain for much of the previous month and suffered a pair of ankle injuries during Alabama’s comeback win over Georgia.

The second was to his right ankle, which was stepped on accidentally by an Alabama offensive lineman. That injury knocked him out of the game, and is the one that caused the high ankle sprain.

Tagovailoa used a walking boot and medical scooter during the Heisman Trophy ceremonies in New York last weekend. Jeff Allen, Alabama’s lead trainer, traveled with Tagovailoa to aid in his recovery.

Tagovailoa, who has thrown for 37 touchdowns and four interceptions, finished second in the Heisman race to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. The two will go head-to-head when the Sooners and the Tide face off in the CFP semifinal game at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 29 in Miami.

Tagovailoa had one of his worst performances of the season during the Dec. 1 SEC title game against Georgia, throwing just one touchdown and two interceptions before the injury forced him to leave. Backup quarterback Jalen Hurts, who started the previous two seasons at Alabama, entered the game and led the come-from-behind victory.

Saban denies Durkin hiring

Former Maryland coach DJ Durkin is spending time with the Alabama football staff but hasn’t been hired.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said in a statement Friday that Durkin “is spending a few days with our staff in Tuscaloosa from a professional development standpoint.” Saban says Durkin hasn’t been “hired in any capacity” but is observing Alabama’s football operations as other coaches have done.

Durkin was fired Oct. 31 after an investigation into the death of Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair.

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