Alabama football coach Nick Saban provided an update on injured cornerback Khyree Jackson, who was seen wearing hiking boots Saturday, Sept. 17, after the Crimson Tide’s win over Louisana-Monroe at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Jackson was injured during Brian Branch’s punt return touchdown in the second half of the 63-7 win. Saban told reporters at his Sept. 19 news conference that the injury did not appear to be “significant.” The Tide trainer said Jackson sprained his ankle.
Saban added, “When you have an ankle injury, you have to go from day to day and we’ll see how he’s doing this week.” The Tide plays Vanderbilt at home on Saturday, September 24. The Commodores go into the game 3-1 and win against Northern Illinois.
Jackson was part of a cornerback rotation along with Terrion Sasrnold, KoolAid McKinstry and Eli Ricks. The 6’3″ Maryland senior had two tackles, including one for a loss, against Utah State and three tackles, including two against special teams, during Alabama’s Texas win.
McKinstry spoke to reporters about the Tide’s cornerbacks after the Louisiana-Monroe game. “I feel like we’ve grown a lot. I feel like we feed each other, learn from each other’s mistakes and just really be there for each other and just be brothers to each other,” McKinstry told reporters. He said they worked hard to improve as a unit throughout the season.
Saban said JoJo Earle, who earned Freshman All-SEC honors in his first season with the Tide as a kick returner, is still working his way back from a broken foot he sustained in August. Saban said they don’t consider Earle to be everyday yet.
“Hopefully this week he starts walking on land, you know, walking and stuff,” Saban told reporters. “But you know, that’s a medical decision, so I really don’t know exactly when he’s coming back. I can’t comment. I hope it comes soon, but I don’t know when that might be.”
Earle, a Texas native, also missed time in the 2021 season with a leg injury. In addition to his return duties, Earle also had 12 catches for 148 yards during his freshman season with the Crimson Tide. He returned 15 punts for 88 yards in 2021. McKinstry has been Alabama’s top returner this season with 10 returns, while Branch filled in with the touchdown return last week. Isaiah Bond, Ja’Corey Brooks and Malachi Moore have also returned punts so far this season.
Saban addressed his team’s punt return efforts after being asked by a reporter about blocking issues and penalties in 2021. The team had 8 returns with no penalties against Louisiana-Monroe. Saban said: “It really depends on the verdict. We coach punt returns very similar to last year. … Don’t clip, don’t hit anyone blindly. … We’ve been coaching all these things since I’ve been here. So, players make good choices and choices because they play disciplined and understand the consequences of bad choices and choices. One of the things we want to improve is being able to play clean and eliminate penalties.”