Alabama Crimson Tide football

Tua Tagovailoa's Return From Injury for Alabama-LSU Comes With Risk

But it is seen as routine here, where a cutting-edge surgical technique, hyperaggressive treatment and a competitiveness have in recent years allowed Alabama players to return much earlier than expected from an often debilitating football injury: the high ankle sprain.

In recent years, top pro prospects have increasingly skipped bowl games that did not factor in the national championship to guard against injuries that could affect their draft position.

And last year, Nick Bosa , a former Ohio State defensive end, had abdominal surgery in September and chose to prepare for the draft rather than return to the Buckeyes, which irked some of the team’s fans.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban has praised Tagovailoa’s parents for their old-school values and Tua for his diligence in rehab, but he said he would not allow a player to return from an injury unless he could perform at a high level, whether he had no N.F.L.

There is additional prestige — and business — at stake for the Andrews Sports Medicine clinic in Birmingham, which employs Norman Waldrop , the Alabama team doctor who performed the surgery.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa could return for Alabama on Saturday against L.S.U., though Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said a final decision would be made near the time of the game.Credit...Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

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