- Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Alabama All-America center Barrett Jones is still wearing a protective boot on his injured left foot but says he'll be ready to go when the No. 2 Crimson Tide play No. 1 Notre Dame in Monday night's Discover BCS National Championship Game at Sun Life Stadium.
Jones, a senior from Germantown, Tenn., has practiced only twice since injuring the foot in the first quarter of Alabama's 32-28 victory over Georgia in the SEC championship game on Dec. 1. He spent much of the past five weeks swimming and running on a specialized treadmill to stay properly conditioned.
"It feels great," said Jones, who won the Rimington Trophy as the country's top center. "I've been able to practice for a few practices. I think the first day I was certainly a little rusty, and on the second day I was a little less rusty. I think it helps that I've started 49 games [in his Alabama career]. I'm ready to roll."
Jones, who won the Outland Trophy as college football's best lineman as a junior in 2011, helped the Crimson Tide run for 350 yards against then-No. 3 Georgia in the SEC championship game. He'll face a Notre Dame defense that ranks No. 1 nationally in scoring defense (10.3 points per game), fourth in rushing defense (92.4 yards) and sixth in total defense (286.8).
Jones was able to play through the injury for the final three quarters against Georgia.
"I'm not worried about him," Alabama guard Chance Warmack said. "He came in and practiced two days ago. He came right in and it was like he was never hurt. He's making the right calls and moving pretty good."
Jones called Fighting Irish junior Louis Nix III the best nose guard he'll face this season.
"He's pretty big," Jones said. "He's got great size to him [6-foot-3, 326 pounds], but he's got really good foot quickness to him for a guy that big. He does a really good job with his hands. He's probably the best nose guard I've played all season."
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