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Alabama won't rush Ingram back

All those Alabama fans hoping to see more of Trent Richardson this season will get their wish in the Crimson Tide’s opener, although it’s not the way anybody wanted it to happen.

Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram will miss Saturday’s game against San Jose State after injuring his left knee in Monday’s practice and undergoing arthroscopic surgery Tuesday morning.

It’s Richardson’s show now, and it may be his show for most of the first month of the season.

At this point, Ingram is only being ruled out for the opener, but there’s no way Alabama coach Nick Saban will push him back before he’s ready.

First and foremost, Saban isn’t going to do anything that would jeopardize Ingram’s NFL career.

Plus, if you push Ingram back before the knee has had time to properly heal, you risk the chance of losing him again later in the season or playing with a version of Ingram that’s only 60 or 70 percent for the remainder of the season.

Alabama will be smarter than that.

The Crimson Tide would love to have him back for the Penn State game the second week of the season, but that might be wishful thinking. Getting the Nittany Lions at home helps, too. Alabama shouldn’t need him to beat Duke the third week of the season, which means the real goal may be getting him back for that trip to Arkansas on Sept. 25.

Every player is different when it comes to recovering from injuries. Ingram’s track record suggests that he’ll be back sooner rather than later.

Either way, this is an example of why depth is so valuable in this league, but it’s also a reminder of how quickly that depth can disappear.

Alabama is now one injury away from playing with a running back who’s never taken a snap. Redshirt freshman Eddie Lacy is plenty talented, but he’s never played.

Of course, a lot of teams out there would love to have a talent like Richardson to fall back on after their starter goes down. Richardson was already poised to get more carries than he did last season (145), but he now becomes the Crimson Tide’s workhorse until Ingram returns.

As a freshman, the most Richardson carried the ball in a game was 19 times, and that came in the BCS National Championship Game win over Texas. In fact, in seven games last season, Richardson had fewer than 10 carries.

He might have 10 carries by the end of the first quarter on Saturday.