HOOVER, Ala. — Nick Saban says his Alabama players relish the high expectations, but offers a caveat.

He points out that the Crimson Tide must replace four NFL first-round draft picks at prominent positions and quarterback Greg McElroy.

Nevertheless, Alabama was picked to win the SEC and is regarded as one of the favorites to win a national title. All that talk, Saban says, "means nothing."

The Tide had five defenders picked to earn first-team preseason All-SEC honors by league media, along with running back Trent Richardson and offensive lineman Barrett Jones.

Saban noted that other teams in the SEC have just as many returning starters and have their quarterbacks back.

Phillip Sims and A.J. McCarron will challenge for the starting job in preseason camp.