Defensive Notes and Observations: 12/14

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    Curt Maggitt-8Some notes and observations from the defensive side of the ball from the open portion of practice as Tennessee worked inside during their third bowl practice in preparation for the TaxSlayer Bowl.

    Injury/absence update: The defensive side of the ball looks relatively healthy as the Vols get back to work. Curt Maggitt was held out, but Butch Jones has said that’s just a precaution at this point as he’s “banged up” from the end of the season.

    As expected, freshman defensive end Joe Henderson wasn’t at practice and that appears to be his permanent situation as he indicated via Twitter on Sunday morning. Freshmen defensive linemen Michael Sawyers and Dewayne Hendrix weren’t in attendance during the open portion either. A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams remain away from the team as well.

    Defensive backs: This week of bowl practices is expected to have somewhat of a fall camp feel and the defensive backs got back to the basics, working on footwork, backpeddling, hand placement and other fundamentals. This will be a big couple weeks for the likes of Emmanuel Moseley, Todd Kelly Jr and some of the other young DBs.

    Defensive line: It continues to be a small group of players working with the defensive line with Maggitt sitting out and the absence of Henderson, Hendrix and Sawyers. Steve Stripling keeps pushing forward, however, with his limited group that consists primarily of Corey Vereen, Derek Barnett, Owen Williams, Jordan Williams and Danny O’Brien right now. It was another big fundamental day for them and Stripling’s work in that area has clearly paid off this year as this inexperienced groups has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season.

    Other notes:

    • Butch Jones moved practice up to 2:10 after originally scheduling it for 3:40 so he and the coaches could get on the road for recruiting.

    • Commitment Joc Bruce was at practice and spent some time with Jones as practice was getting started.