LaBryan Ray, who suffered a hyperextended elbow against Ole Miss, returned to practice today for the first time in three weeks. Nick Saban provided details on the fourth-year defensive end in a teleconference on Wednesday.

"He's starting to practice. This is the type of thing he needs to develop confidence in, but he's making good progress," Saban said.

Previously, Coach Saban had alluded to the media that Ray may be held out for extra time to ensure the injury would not linger, but with the postponement of the LSU game, now is as good a time as ever.

As a redshirt junior this season, Ray has seen action in the first three games, recording 11 tackles and one half sack.  In his previous years at Alabama, Ray has dealt with the injury bug frequently. He was forced to miss six games his freshman year with a foot injury, suffered another season ending foot injury his sophomore year, and was injured again just three games into his junior year and forced to miss the rest of the season.

When able to play, Ray has shown flashes of being a top-tier pass rusher. In his sophomore year before his injury, Ray had 39 total tackles, six tackles for loss, and two and a half sacks. If there is one thing Alabama's defense needs this season, it is more leadership, and Ray can bring that.

Ray came into this season as the most experienced defensive lineman on the team, and will likely be a difference maker for the Tide moving forward if he can stay healthy.  The extra long bye week before the Tide's matchup with Kentucky on Nov. 21 should be an excellent opportunity for Ray to get back into the swing of things with the defense. Hopefully he can find the field against the Wildcats and return to form.

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