I’m not privy to how Alabama running back Mark Ingram's rehabilitation is going from arthroscopic knee surgery, but I don’t see much chance that he plays this week against Penn State.
Alabama coach Nick Saban conceded as much Monday when he said it was a “little bit of a stretch” that everything would go just right in Ingram’s recovery, clearing the way for him to play this week.
“I have to see Mark Ingram be Mark Ingram,” Saban said before he would even consider playing the Heisman Trophy winner.
Here’s the other part that Saban didn’t say: There’s no way he or anybody in Alabama’s program is going to push Ingram back too early.
I have no doubt that Ingram is a fast healer and is doing everything he possibly can to get back onto the field.
But you simply can’t risk bringing him back before you’re absolutely sure he’s ready. The Crimson Tide are going to need him at 100 percent in November and December and not just merely trying to gut it out on that knee those last few games.
Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy can handle it this week against the Nittany Lions, and when you consider how explosive the Crimson Tide’s passing game is, that makes Richardson and Co. even more dangerous.
We’ll see how Ingram progresses, and it may be that he at least wants to get the feel of a game again next week against Duke before that first SEC test against Arkansas.
But I still think it will be that fourth week of the season in Fayetteville before we see “Mark Ingram be Mark Ingram” again.