It was the final (guaranteed) practice of 2014 for the “team from the east” today as the Vols wrapped up their preparation’s for this weekend’s game against Vanderbilt in Nashville at 4:00pm on Saturday at Dudley Field. The Vols will have a “mental” practice tomorrow morning before taking the afternoon off to celebrate Thanksgiving with their teammates.
Media were only given one period of practice to view today, but here are a few noteworthy items from the brief time we were able to watch:
Crowder returns: I’m not sure if he will see much action this weekend, but junior center Mack Crowder was back on the practice field today after missing yesterday’s open portion. Butch Jones did say yesterday after practice that Crowder was able to go through some reps in the later periods, but this was the first we had seen him this week. Crowder actually looked much better than I expected him to given how nasty his injury looked against Kentucky. He was not wearing a green, non-contact jersey and didn’t appear to have any more tape on his ankle than he usually does.
At the beginning of practice, however, it was Dylan Wiesman – not Crowder – who was seen snapping balls to Joshua Dobbs as Mike Bajakian soaked them with water. Coleman Thomas snapped to backup quarterback Nathan Peterman and Crowder snapped for third string signal caller Mike Wegzyn. Based on that alone, I think it is safe to say that Crowder would only be used in an emergency type of situation this weekend.
No Croom: It is also worth noting that Jason Croom was not seen on the practice field today during the one open period. Croom went down early during yesterday’s practice with what Butch Jones said was a cramp, and it is unclear whether or not Croom’s absence today and yesterday’s “incident” are related.
If Croom were to be unavailable for this weekend’s game, look for players like Johnathon Johnson, Vic Wharton and Ryan Jenkins to see their roles expand in his absence. Wharton and Jenkins have each been making considerable strides in recent weeks while Johnson looks to be close to 100-percent healthy after battling through some nagging injuries in recent weeks.
Injury notes: Running backs Marlin Lane and Jalen Hurd were the only players seen wearing green, non-contact jerseys today. Defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry practiced again and looks like he may be close to earning some reps this weekend. Derrell Scott also practiced, but did still have his right hand heavily wrapped.