Some notes and observations from the open portion of practice on Saturday morning at Neyland Stadium.
Practice setting, scrimmage feel: We only saw the first few periods, but there was a scrimmage-like feel for the Vols as they went through practice on Saturday morning at Neyland Stadium. The Vols were in full pads and the coaches were preparing to use the headsets on the sideline. The day wasn’t technically labeled a “scrimmage” per se, but you can tell UT is getting one of its final dress rehearsals in before the season starts in two weeks.
Number switches: This one isn’t a surprise because Butch Jones referenced it earlier in camp, but Jashon Robertson is wearing No. 75 in practice to honor senior Marcus Jackson, who is out for the year. Cornerback Cam Sutton was wearing No. 7, which is normally the number of Rashaan Gaulden.
Punt return work: The punt returners worked on returning punts angled towards the sideline, which includes deciding which ones to field and which ones to let go out of bounds. They seem to have settled in on a few options in terms of who is getting practice the reps at punt returner. Cam Sutton handled those duties in 2014 and is the presumed favorite to keep doing that.
Jones on target: Most of the talk in camp, rightfully, has been about Joshua Dobbs and Quinten Dormady, and the Vols hope those are the only two quarterbacks that play in 2015, but I continue to be impressed with Sheriron Jones, who was throwing the ball with a ton of confidence and accuracy in the drills I saw. He still has some freshman moments – occasionally leaving a ball a bit behind a receiver or having one float out of his a little bit, but I like what I saw on Saturday for the most part.
Malone update: We mentioned a bad drop in the red zone yesterday by Josh Malone, but today he seemed to be catching everything in sight. He’s doing a much better job overall this camp of using his hands to make catches and not letting the ball get to his body. That trust level will still have to be built up with him, but we expect him to be a big part of the rotation this season if all keeps going as planned.
Green, non-contact jerseys: WR Adrian Gamble, S LaDarrell McNeil, RB John Kelly, DT Kahlil McKenzie
Injury update: Butch Jones confirmed that nickelback Rashaan Gaulden will miss the season with a fractured foot. Jones said Todd Kelly Jr. (illness), OL Jack Jones (strain) and WR Josh Smith (strain) were held out of practice Saturday. Jones also confirmed that DE LaTroy Lewis, WR Marquez North and CB Justin Martin should return “full go” to practice on Monday.