Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram has not returned to practice for No. 1 Alabama and while Nick Saban said the injured running back is unlikely to play against No. 18 Penn State on Saturday, the coach isn't necessarily counting his star out.

"If there is anybody in the world that can play without practicing, it's probably Mark," Saban said after Wednesday's practice. "He's a student of the game, he watches everything, understands everything, knows everything and he's a tremendous competitor. He has a lot of experience, but we would never put him in that situation."

Ingram had left knee surgery last week, but Saban said he was able to do some running the past two days.

"I just don't know if Mark's going to have enough practice time," he said. "He's getting close, but I don't know if he'll have enough practice time in to be able to play in the game or not."

Before practice, Saban said Ingram's knee was "improving every day" and hasn't had swelling but the Heisman winner "probably" wouldn't be able to play. The Tide (1-0) faces the Nittany Lions (1-0) Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"If he can continue to progress — I would say he's probably not going to be ready to play this week," Saban said. "He might be ready by the game, but he won't be able to practice enough.

"After that, maybe we have a chance to get him back if he continues to progress."

Ingram sat out Alabama's opener against San Jose State after having an arthroscopic procedure to repair an injury sustained in practice early on opening week.

Backup Trent Richardson had 10 carries for 66 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go with three catches for 46 yards in the win over San Jose State. He only played the first half.