Saban: Waddle (ankle) could return for CFP final

Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN that junior receiver Jaylen Waddle has been cleared to practice this week and has a chance to play Monday against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff national championship game.

“He’s been running, but we need to see him in practice,” Saban said. “Our medical people will evaluate him as the week goes on and make a decision from there. He wants to play and has been working hard to get back.”

Waddle has not played since fracturing his right ankle on the opening kickoff against Tennessee on Oct. 24. Getting him back would be huge for an already explosive Alabama offense that ranks second nationally in scoring (48.2 points per game). The Crimson Tide are tied for fourth nationally with 16 passing plays of 40 yards or longer and rank first nationally with seven passing plays of 60 yards or longer.

Prior to his injury, Waddle caught 25 passes in five games, including four touchdown receptions, and averaged 22.3 yards per catch. He owns three of the five longest scoring receptions in Alabama history. The 5-foot-10, 182-pound Waddle is also a dangerous return specialist and has averaged 19.3 yards on punt returns during his three seasons, although using him on returns might be a stretch if he’s healthy enough to play in the national title game.

Waddle is ranked No. 8 overall on Mel Kiper’s latest Big Board of NFL draft prospects. Waddle’s wide receiver cohort at Alabama, DeVonta Smith, is ranked No. 4 on Kiper’s Big Board. Smith leads the country with 20 touchdown catches and is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

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