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Defensive Practice Notes and Observations: 11/19

LaDarrell McNeil-1Some notes and observations from the defensive side of the ball at the open portion of Wednesday’s outdoor practice in near-freezing temperatures in Knoxville:

Braving the cold: The team practiced outside in shorts and shoulder pads in near-freezing weather in the 40s that had a wind chill of in the mid-30s. As usual, the players weren’t wearing any long sleeves or additional cold gear.

Injury/absence update: DT Trevarris Saulsberry remained sidelined as he continues to rehab his knee injury. Jones has ruled him out for Saturday. DE Corey Vereen, who was banged up in the Kentucky game, got some first-team reps and appears set to play. Curt Maggitt and Jalen Reeves-Maybin are each practicing with a brace on, but neither showed any ill effects from it.

Suspended LB A.J. Johnson and CB Michael Williams were not at the open portion of practice. DE Joe Henderson (NCAA Clearinghouse) and DT Michael Sawyers, who has been away from practice for the past few weeks for undisclosed reasons, also were not seen during the open portion of practice.

Filling the LB void: As Butch Jones said would happen on Tuesdsay, linebackers Jakob Johnson, Kenny Bynum and Cortez McDowell all got extra work with the absence of A.J. Johnson.

Jakob Johnson, who got second-team reps against Kentucky and was seeing at least some first-team reps on Wednesday, could see a lot of work against Missouri if the coaching staff decides to go in that direction. Maggitt and Chris Weatherd are other options the coaching staff has at linebacker.

Secondary notes: The Vols are preparing for life without Brian Randolph by giving Todd Kelly Jr. first-team reps during practice. Randolph was working with the second team to stay sharp since he will be available in the second half after sitting his one-half suspension for targeting in the Kentucky game.

Link to offensive notes. 

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