Some notes and observations from the open portion of practice on Tuesday afternoon.
Starting off with 2-point play: Butch Jones started practice off with a two-point play for the first and second-team offense to go against their defensive counterparts to get the competitive juices flowing a bit. We can’t talk about the plays themselves or who was on the field per UT’s media policy, but the first-team offense was able to find the end zone, while the second-team defense got a stop.
Getting healthier: Jones confirmed that the Vols got Todd Kelly Jr. (illness), Jack Jones, Marquez North, Justin Martin and LaTroy Lewis back on the practice field Tuesday afternoon. Jones also confirmed that they held out Alex Ellis and Josh Smith (muscle spasms) at practice.
“We do continue to get healthy, which is very positive,” Butch Jones said.
Wide receiver work: We saw a lot of work from the receivers during practice. Zach Azzanni, who you can see has a ton of input in the passing game in his new title as Passing Game Coordinator this year, was putting his group through a drill that helped with releases off the line of scrimmage. The receivers also got a lot of work with the quarterbacks, working on adjustments to various coverages and getting in sync with the signal callers on the precision of their routes.
Josh Malone continues to step up, and while we always put the “buyer beware” label on him until he shows it consistently on the field, you can tell he has a better grasp of the offense and is even helping younger players like Jauan Jennings learn the offense.
Offensive line: Getting to the second level of the defense looked to be one of the points of emphasis for the offensive line, which continues to shuffle around looking for its best five. Don Mahoney had them hitting the sled hard as Tennessee looks for its starters for the opener against Bowling Green. Jones said last week that he’d like to have the starters nailed down “soon,” but has stopped short of setting an exact time table on that. He re-emphasized that after practice, saying that he was hoping to have something this week, but isn’t quite ready.
Foreman getting reps at the nickel: Jones didn’t say who was getting the most work at nickel, but did say that Malik Foreman is getting “valuable reps” there right now as the Vols look for a replacement for Rashaan Gaulden.
Stripes removed: Freshman guard Venzell Boulware and freshman cornerback Micah Abernathy had their stripes removed after practice