Some notes and observations from the practice field during the open portion of Wednesday’s practice:
11-on-11 notes: We saw our first couple 11-on-11 plays of the fall with Butch Jones getting the practice jump-started by getting the first and second team offenses up against their defensive counterparts in a fourth-and-1 situation. Per UT rules, we can’t go into much detail on formation or scheme, but each unit ran the ball on their respective rep. John Kelly was in there with the first team (don’t look too much into that at this point) and muscled forward to barely get the first down. Joe Young got the carry on the second team and it appeared that Colton Jumper busted into the backfield to disrupt the play. He couldn’t bring Young down, but slowed him enough that the rest of the defensive swarm got there and took him down for the stop short of the first-down line.
We couldn’t note every starter who was on the field, and even if we could it wouldn’t be that informative with so many guys out right now, but it did look like Kenny Bynum got the first rep at inside linebacker. The defensive front consisted of Corey Vereen, Owen Williams, Danny O’Brien and Derek Barnett. Emmanuel Moseley was on the field, as was Todd Kelly with the first-team defense. Offensively, it appeared that the offensive line, from left to right, was Kyler Kerbyson, Brett Kendrick, Mack Crowder, Jack Jones and Coleman Thomas. The second team looked like (L to R) Dontavius Blair, Charles Mosley, Ray Raulerson, Venzell Boulware and Drew Richmond. Quinten Dormady was the second QB behind Dobbs in this drill.
Again, take some of that with a grain of salt as a ton of guys are being held out with bumps and bruises right now. We’re hoping to get a better feel for how the depth chart is shaking out at the open practice on Saturday night.
Injury list remains long: Keeping up with the extensive list of injuries is becoming a chore as they’ve piled up over the past few days. We have no reason to believe that any of them are more serious than normal tweaks or minor sprains that keep guys out a few days, up to a week or so, but there are a ton of guys missing out there.
The most notable new absences on Wednesday were running back Jalen Hurd and linebacker Cortez McDowell. I also didn’t see Brian Randolph on the field. In addition to those two, the more “regular” list of Chance Hall, Jason Croom, Cody Blanc, LaTroy Lewis, Stephen Griffin, Ethan Wolf, Evan Berry, Justin Martin, Jashon Robertson, Dylan Wiesman, Pig Howard, Andrew Butcher and Trevarris Saulsberry appeared to all still be out. Add in Marcus Jackson and Preston Williams’ absences, and that’s approximately 18 guys not out there right now.
Kendal Vickers is working his way back in after getting banged up a few days ago, as is defensive back Max Arnold. Von Pearson was in full pads and out of the non-contact jersey, so his acclimation period is done and he’s 100% full go now after missing several months due to suspension.
Consider that list a bit tentative because the quantity of injuries has made it difficult to account for all of them each day.
• Getting off special teams blocks was a big point of emphasis in the open portion. Butch Jones didn’t love what he saw from some of the early reps and made sure to wake the players up. It seemed to get through to Emmanuel Moseley, who had one very sloppy rep, but then came back a couple minutes later and made a great block in that same drill.
• Brett Kendrick and Jack Jones, at least for the time being, appear to be settled in at guard after working at tackle in the spring. They’re getting most of the first reps that I’ve seen with Robertson temporarily done and Jackson out for the season.
• I’ve also seen virtually no sign of Coleman Thomas playing any center. It appears they are set to utilize him at tackle, and he’s very much in contention, to the point that I’d call him the favorite, to start at right tackle at this point.
• The Vols return to the practice field for another two-a-day session on Thursday, then will have Friday off from the field before the open practice on Saturday.
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