National Championship Game hero Tua Tagovailoa injured his left thumb during Alabama’s first spring practice of 2018.
Alabama coach Nick Saban mentioned Tagovailoa’s injury while naming the players who will miss all or parts of Alabama’s spring practice sessions. Saban made a throwing motion when he said Tagovailoa got hurt and said the QB is heading to out of town for further evaluation on the injury.
“Tua hurt his thumb today in practice,” Saban said after Tuesday’s practice. “Taking him to Birmingham to get that evaluated but probably going to require some time for him to get back. I don’t want to speculate on what the injury might be. But most of the time when these type things happen it takes a little while for them to come back.”
That little while could only be a few days of complete absence. Saban said he was optimistic Tagovailoa could return to practice in some capacity soon.
“I think in a few days Tua will be able to do some things but when you hurt your thumb on your throwing hand it’s kind of hard to grip the ball so that’s going to be the issue, whether he’s able to throw it,” Saban said. “He and Jalen [Hurts] were splitting reps and we’re giving both guys an opportunity and see how they compete and how they do.”
Hurts was Alabama’s quarterback throughout the 2017 season. After the Tide offense got off to a slow start in the title game, Tagovailoa started the second half and helped lead Alabama’s comeback to force the game into overtime. After Georgia kicked a field goal to start overtime, the then-freshman hit DeVonta Smith for a game-winning touchdown.
Smith is still listed as a wide receiver and will play there in the fall, but Saban said he spent time at cornerback on Tuesday because of depth issues in the secondary.
If Tagovailoa misses significant time during the spring, Hurts will obviously get most of the first-team snaps and Mac Jones may be elevated to the second string. Former East Carolina quarterback Gardner Minshew originally said he would be playing for Alabama in 2018 but announced Tuesday that he was heading to Washington State, at least in part because he would have a better opportunity to play. Had Minshew followed through with his Alabama transfer, he wouldn’t have been with the team for spring practice anyway.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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