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August 31, 2010TUSCALOOSA _ University of Alabama running back Mark Ingram sustained a left knee injury during Monday's practice and will miss this week's season opener against San Jose State.
The Heisman Trophy winner underwent arthroscopic surgery Tuesday morning. The recovery time after having such a procedure is usually a couple of weeks, depending on how well it heals.
"It was a situation where everyone involved thought it would be better to take care of now, so he would not have any issues with it later in the season," Coach Nick Saban said in a release. "Mark had an arthroscopic procedure this morning with Dr. (Lyle) Cain and Dr. (James) Andrews and it was successful. We have full confidence in our medical staff and we know the doctors and athletic trainers will do an outstanding job in taking care of Mark and assisting him in his rehab."
Ingram is expected to fully recover, but coaches plan on being cautious and not rush him back. After San Jose State on Saturday, the Crimson Tide will host Penn State and then travel to Duke before opening Southeastern Conference play at Arkansas on Sept. 25. Obviously, the longer he's out the more difficult it'll be trying to become the second player in college football history to win two Heisman Trophies, joining Archie Griffin (1974-75).
"I talked to him, he's doing good," said sophomore running back Trent Richardson, who added that he hopes Ingram returns for the Nittany Lions. "He had surgery this morning and he's a player. He came in for the afternoon meetings. It's like he's ready to get back on the field already."
None of the players made available to reporters knew how Ingram sustained the injury, only that it occurred sometime near the end of practice. Ingram told Richardson that his knee was hurting a little and left the field, and other teammates said he didn't even mention it during dinner.
"The whole team didn't know," junior receiver Julio Jones said. "We have an offensive period and a defensive period, so everybody was just everywhere and not a lot of people knew what happened to him until today we saw it on TV.
"We just have to keep going. Everyone has him in our prayers, but the team just has to keep pushing on and hope the best for him."
The junior out of Flint, Mich., is known in particular for his toughness. While establishing the Alabama single-season rushing record with 1,658 yards he gained 1,075 yards after contact (249 carries, 30 receptions), while losing just one career fumble.
Such injuries are fairly uncommon during Alabama's practices, which don't include live tackling.
Although Alabama has five running backs on the depth chart released Monday, it's the lone spot on the offense with injury problems during the preseason including junior Jeramie Griffin switching to a medical scholarship after he didn't fully recover from a torn ACL sustained during last year's camp.
Richardson, named preseason first-team All-SEC by media, second-team by coaches, is expected to start against San Jose State and still return kickoffs although he's been somewhat limited by a banged-up shoulder.
"They were being extra cautious with me, it wasn't anything more than a bruise," Richardson said. "But I'm ready to go now."
Richardson accumulated 741 rushing yards on 145 carries last season and scored eight rushing touchdowns, including his 49-yard bust against Texas to give Alabama the lead in the BCS National Championship Game. By finishing with 109 rushing yard on a career-high 19 carries at the Rose Bowl, both he and Ingram had 100-yard performances.
"We're extremely fortunate that for Mark to go down -- the heart and soul of our offense and won the Heisman Trophy last year because he's the best player in college football - we're fortunate to have guys like that behind him," junior center William Vlachos said. "They're going to rise to the opportunity and do their thing, it's not going to change anything we do up front."
Eddie Lacy moves up to reserve status. At 6-foot-0, 212 pounds he's a bit of a bigger back, but plays in the same style as Ingram and Richardson.
"Eddie is a little taller," Ingram said before Monday's practice. "He's a physical runner, he can make you miss. He can catch out of the backfield, so he's another great back."
Due to injury Lacy only played seven games his senior season at Dutchtown High School in Geismar, La., but still managed 1,046 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. He redshirted last season.
"It's huge for Eddie Lacy, but watching him he's been in the hip pocket or Mark and Trent since he got here," Vlachos said. "With all the success they've had he's watched them and as he keeps maturing he looks more and more like them. The things they do right he picks up on and is doing the next day."
Junior Demetrius Goode has three games experience, with nine carries for 24 yards, but sustained a hamstring injury during fall camp. Also on the depth chart is true freshman Corey Grant, who like Goode is a little smaller than the other running backs, listed at 5-foot-9, 186 pounds.
"He's a great player, but I've been working all summer, all spring, and I know Goode is ready too," Richardson said. "We all need to be ready. We have to step up and play our roles."