It was an easy morning of work for the defense during today’s open portion of practice. Outside of a brief special teams session the players did mostly drill work as the focus remained on the finer details; using proper technique, pursuit angles, gap integrity…etc. While the media wasn’t able to see much, there were still a few nuggets worth mentioning.
Walk Through: The defense worked on their basic formations today and in Curt Maggitt’s absence Derek Barnett continued to work with the first team at one defensive end position with Corey Vereen at the other. Jordan Williams and Danny O’Brien look firmly planted at the defensive tackle positions with Owen Williams looking like the third guy in that rotation.
A.J. Johnson and Jalen Reeves-Maybin took the snaps at linebacker along with newcomer Chris Weatherd at the other outside position. Coach Jones mentioned this weak that Weatherd already has a pass special package that they put in for him based on his ability to rush the passer, but it looked today like he may be getting some looks in their base defense as well. This is certainly good news for depth at that position and will give the coaching staff the option to do some different things from that position.
In another surprise, Justin Coleman took the first team snaps at the cornerback position opposite of Cam Sutton as the coaches ares still working on different lineups in the secondary based on offensive personnel. Freshman Emmanuel Moseley has been taking the reps at the opposite corner when Coleman slides inside to the nickel spot. Devaun Swafford and Brian Randolph stayed put at the safety spots.
Gaulden Gaining Ground: There has been a lot of speculation as to where freshman defensive back Rashaan Gaulden would fit in for the Vols secondary, be it at corner, nickel or safety. After the start of camp saw him get a little banged up and miss some time during contact work, Gaulden has been working with the cornerbacks this week and looks to be picking things up quite nicely.
Gaulden is already one of the most fluid players in the secondary and now that he is getting quality reps you can see that he is starting to gain some confidence. At 6’1 and 180 pounds, Gaulden possesses the type of size and speed combination that will allow him to eventually match up with the bigger receivers in the conference as he gets stronger and more familiar with the playbook.
Injury Notes: It was good to see Curt Maggitt back out on the practice field today. He was in a walking boot and did not participate in any drills, but the energy he brings to this team just by being on the sidelines is easy to see. Maggitt said yesterday that he wasn’t worried about his health and that he should be back out on the field soon.
Geraldo Orta and Jaylen Miller were the other two holdouts on the defensive side of the ball.
Scouts About: Scouts from the San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills and what looked like the New York Giants were seen in attendance today. The scouts spent most of their time eye-balling the defensive field.
Here’s the think to today’s Offensive Notes and Observations.