Some notes and observations from the open portion of practice on Tuesday afternoon at Haslam practice field.
Green team: Running back Jalen Hurd and receiver Josh Malone were both wearing green, non-contact jerseys. It’s become pretty much a weekly occurrence for Hurd, who the coaching staff most likely just wants to protect at all costs since they know what they’re going to get out of him on Saturdays. Malone is a newer development, but there was no indication that he had any significant injuries that would limit him on Saturday at Kentucky.
In his official injury report on Monday, Butch Jones said he anticipates RT Brett Kendrick, WR Preston Williams and G Jashon Robertson being available for Kentucky, but said he’d have to wait until later in the week to know more. A report from WNML-FM in Knoxville on Monday did indicate that Kendrick will be out for the year, though that hasn’t been confirmed by UT yet.
The receivers continue to be a bit short-handed with only six scholarship receivers who have appeared in a game this year working at practice – Josh Smith, Josh Malone, Von Pearson, Johnathon Johnson, Marquez North and Jauan Jennings.
“We have been very, very limited at the wide receiver position,” Jones said on Monday. “I think it was about four or five weeks ago, everybody is saying you should only play three or four wide receivers, well you see why you can’t do that. We need to have 10. That’s why you develop them, that’s why we have to recruit a bunch in this recruiting class. But I give our receivers a lot of credit. They’re been warriors. They’re playing extensive plays, they’re giving great effort.”
Shorts and shoulder pads: We’ve often seen the Vols in helmets, shoulder pads and football pants on Tuesday practices, but the Vols went with just helmets, shoulder pads and shorts on Tuesday. Perhaps, coming off a physical game at Alabama and with another SEC road game on Saturday at Kentucky, the coaching staff wants to keep the team as fresh as possible as the stretch run approaches.
Punt return work: This coaching staff occasionally has some interesting tactics to help prepare the players and one great example of that came during punt return drills on Tuesday. Zach Azzanni would throw his towel in the air in the line of sight of the punt returners as they tried to make the catch – likely trying to teach them to stay focused on the ball regardless of what else happens.
Line moving: This isn’t so much practice related, but Tennessee, which opened as a 7-point favorite, has now moved to an 8.5-point favorite against the Wildcats, according to Vegas Insider.