Bama’s Watkins makes swift return from broken arm
Even Alabama coach Nick Saban did a double-take when linebacker
Alex Watkins trotted onto the practice field two days after surgery
on a broken arm.
”You back already?” Saban asked him.
The same question was certainly appropriate less than two weeks
later when Watkins returned to action for the fourth-ranked Crimson
Tide against No. 1 LSU, with 23 staples stretching some seven
inches down his left forearm.
Watkins’ swift return has wowed teammates, and Saban. The senior
from rural Tennessee seems less impressed by his display of
”I’ve been chopping wood since I was about 8,” Watkins said.
”So I guess you can count it as I’ve got a high tolerance for
Injured against Tennessee, Watkins had a plate inserted in his
left arm on Oct. 23 and wound up not having to miss a game thanks
to an open date.
Equally impressive, he didn’t skip a single practice after
”That’s the epitome of toughness there,” Tide center William
Vlachos said. ”I can’t imagine what that feels like, but that’s
obviously some toughness.”
He has 13 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble – and two significant
comebacks – going into Saturday night’s game at Mississippi
A fixture on special teams, Watkins had already undergone
surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in late March,
but was back for the season opener.
”I mean, the guy loves playing,” Alabama noseguard Josh
Chapman said. ”He loves competing. People have a different
tolerance for pain. That’s one thing he does not have is pain. I
mean, he has a broken arm, a messed up knee. I mean, it’s just
going to be a temporary thing.”
Tailback Trent Richardson called Watkins ”like our Superman out
Watkins’ arm is a little high-maintenance when it comes to
practicing and playing. He has a soft cushion placed around it,
followed by a hard cast and foam.
Watkins said the process takes about 18 minutes and he gets a
new cast after every practice. He was scheduled to get the staples
removed on Thursday.
Saban, by the way, is still impressed.
”Alex Watkins is an amazing guy,” the coach said. ”He has
been a great leader for this group and really cares about the team.
He has done so many good things to affect other people, and I don’t
get surprised much when guys come back from injuries, but this guy
never missed a day.
”I mean he gets his arm operated on, and a plate put in his
arm, on Sunday and runs out onto the field on (Tuesday) like he’s
ready to practice.”
Saban said Watkins was limited in practice for a week to 10
days. He played on special teams against LSU and didn’t record a
tackle, but could see an increased role Saturday night.
Watkins broke his arm when an offensive lineman blocked him
while he had hold of a Tennessee running back.
”When I broke it, I’m thinking my season’s over, but I gotta
fight back,” Watkins said. ”I can’t miss any games because it’s
my last year.”
He’s from Nutbush, Tenn., a west Tennessee town of about 250
best known for cotton and as the birthplace of Tina Turner.
Chapman said he’s just a tough country boy.
”He’s a fighting guy, one of those guys that pain’s just
temporary,” the noseguard said. ”He’ll get it fixed later on in
life. He’s one of those guys who’s the heart and soul of this