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Defensive Notes and Observations: 8/22

Michael Williams-1Tennessee practiced on an extremely warm Friday afternoon at Haslam Field – their last practice before the standard week of game preparation begins next week.

Here are some notes from the defensive side of the ball:

Depth chart notes: Michael Williams continues to work with the first team at cornerback alongside Cam Sutton and Justin Coleman at nickelback. Devaun Swafford and Brian Randolph were the first-team safeties with LaDarrell McNeil and Todd Kelly Jr. taking the second-team reps.

Chris Weatherd got some work with the first team at linebacker in various packages. Derek Barnett continued to work as a first-team defensive end as Curt Maggitt makes his full recovery from his ankle injury. Colton Jumper and Dillon Bates worked with the second-team defense at linebacker. One other interesting note is that Geraldo Orta got some work as the second-team nickel, splitting time with Malik Foreman.

Live action: A few things we saw in one period of live action, from the defensive perspective:

• The first-team defense got good pressure on Justin Worley. Corey Vereen and Chris Weatherd both recorded a sack. With the second unit, Todd Kelly Jr. and Geraldo Orta both got into the backfield as well.

• Michael Williams likely would’ve had an interception on one play if he didn’t have a cast on his hand.

• The worst play came on a fourth down when Von Pearson made a catch against Justin Coleman over the middle and ran past Devaun Swafford for about a 50-yard score.

After some heated yelling, Butch Jones stopped the practice after several live plays to drive home some points to the team. His biggest point for the defense during that time was to be situationally smart and not get beat deep in a fourth-down situation like it did.

Special freshmen: Several freshmen continue to get work on key special teams units. Elliott Berry, Dillon Bates and Todd Kelly Jr. were all getting reps with the starting kickoff team. Redshirt sophomore George Bullock appears to have the kickoff duties pretty well locked down at this point.

One freshman who didn’t have as good a day was defensive tackle Michael Sawyers. Jones had several “motivational” comments for him, including telling him he hasn’t earned the right to play yet. Jones also made the whole team start one warm-up drill over again because Sawyers’ hand wasn’t on the line.

Injury update: Curt Maggitt was in full pads and went through individual drills. He did not, however, work in any live action during the open portion. Trevarris Saulsberry was a spectator at practice wearing a brace on his left knee.

Here are our practices notes on the Vol offense.


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