TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama football associate defensive coordinator and safeties coach Charles Kelly returned to practice today after not being able to make the trip to Missouri with the team last Saturday.
No reason was ever given as to why Kelly was unable to make the trip, although Alabama coach Nick Saban did reveal that Kelly had been sidelined due to an illness. Whether or not the illness was COVID-related is uncertain.
During Saturday's game, Alabama leaned on former Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and cornerbacks coach Karl Scott during Kelly's absence.
In addition to Kelly, Saban informed the media in his Wednesday Zoom press conference that redshirt-sophomore defensive lineman Christian Barmore has also been practicing all week after missing the Missouri game due to a knee injury suffered in the last scrimmage of fall camp.
Saban commented on both Barmore and Kelly's return on Wednesday evening.
"Charles Kelly was back to work today, so he's fine," Saban said. "Christian Barmore has practiced all week, so we're hopeful that he'll be able to contribute in the game as well."
In addition to Barmore and Kelly, Saban noted that redshirt-junior tight end Major Tennison, while not participating in Saturday's game against Missouri, would have played a larger part at tight end had he not also been sick.
"Major Tennison would've played probably before some of those guys, but he has been sick — not COVID sick, but just a little bit," Saban said. "[Tennison] has got an intestinal problem that has really kept him off the field for a while, but he was doing extremely well before that."
Saban then reiterated that he is confident in his tight ends group, which also includes notable players redshirt-senior Miller Forristall, senior Carl Tucker and redshirt-junior Kendall Randolph among others.
"I think all these guys are capable and we wanted to see what some guys could do in the game," Saban said. "If we had finished the game better, we could've played a lot more guys. We think we have three or four guys at that position that are all going to contribute in some way, so we have no problem playing all of them."
Having Kelly, Barmore and Tennison all back will be crucial in the Crimson Tide's next game this weekend against Texas A&M. Barmore will be a nice addition on the defensive front while Tennison adds some depth to the tight end position. Alabama secondary struggled in the second half against Missouri, and while that might not necessary correlate with Kelly's absence, his return this weekend will be welcome.
At the end of his opening statement, Saban discussed that he and his players are excited to make their return to Bryant-Denny Stadium against the Aggies this weekend.
"We're looking forward to playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium this week," Saban said. "I know it won't be the same without all the fans, but we know you'll be there in spirit. And I hope the fans that are there will do a great job of helping our team and cheering out team along so that they can maintain the emotional standard that they need to be able to play well for 60 minutes."
This story will be updated with video from Saban's press conference.