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Offensive Practice Notes and Observations: 9/9

Marquez North-1-2Some notes and observations from offense after a few periods of open practice on Tuesday afternoon as the Vols continue to prepare for Oklahoma…

Depth chart: The short-lived Brett Kendrick era might be over at left tackle. During individual drills the first-team line was (from left to right) Kyler Kerbyson, Marcus Jackson, Mack Crowder, Jashon Robertson and Coleman Thomas. Butch Jones alluded to that possibility in yesterday’s press conference. We’ll write more about that after practice.

Jones on the mic: Butch said it would be a battle between receivers Vic Wharton and Ryan Jenkins for a spot on the travel team. Jones said he would personally coach Wharton and Zach Azzanni could personally coach Jenkins for the day. This is where we should remind you that Butch isn’t always speaking literally when he says those things, but Jenkins and Wharton are two players who could be battling for a few snaps, and, yes, possibly a spot on the travel team with Von Pearson (ankle) out Saturday.

Injury update: TE Ethan Wolf was at practice, but didn’t wear pads and he had a brace and a black sleeve on his right leg. He was seen jogging around on the perimeter of the field and working on cutting some on his injured knee. It’s too early to make any kind of determination on his availability, but it’s not a great sign that he wasn’t in pads, though somewhat encouraging that he is getting some jogging in. WR Jason Croom, like last week, had a green, non-contact jersey on. Derrell Scott was in pads, but worked on the side. We didn’t see WR Von Pearson at any point of the open practice.

Special teams notes: The Vols spent extensive time trying to tighten up their punt team. It wasn’t a great period overall, however. The officials at practice flagged them for two false starts and at least one – possibly more – of the punts would’ve been blocked if it were true live action. Jones discussed trying to get more newcomers on special teams, but we didn’t see any direct evidence of that. Todd Kelly Jr. was the only true freshman on the first punt team from what we saw.

While Jones reaffirmed Cam Sutton as the starter at punt returner, Josh Malone, Pig Howard and Devrin Young were all receiving punts as well in practice. Coaches continued to work all of the punt returners about making good decisions as to when to run up and field it and when to let it go or call it “poison” in their terminology.

Here’s a link to today’s Defensive Notes and Observations.

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