Some notes and observations from the open portion of Tennessee’s bowl practice in Knoxville on Tuesday morning.
Team action: For the first time in awhile, the media saw some 11-on-11 team action as the Vols work on their offense and defense leading up to the Jan. 1 matchup with Northwestern. Per UT policy, we can’t go too in-depth on personnel, formations and strategy, but it looked like in the dozen or so plays that we saw that the offense looked crisp and moved the ball fairly well against its first-and-second team counterparts.
Jalen Hurd ripped of a long run right up the middle for 40ish yards for the first offense, and quarterback Sheriron Jones did a good job moving around and finding Johnathon Johnson for a couple nice completions with the second unit.
Injury update: Running backs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara continued to practice in non-contact jerseys, and we expect them to for most, if not all, of the bowl practice sessions as a precautionary measure as the Vols look to keep two of their biggest playmakers healthy. Though we don’t expect him to play in the Outback Bowl so he can finish out his redshirt year, cornerback Rashaan Gaulden continues to go through some individual drills and looks to be in pretty good shape after missing the season with a foot injury.
Offensive lineman Austin Sanders and linebacker Quart’e Sapp also continue to dress out for practice after missing much or all of the season due to injury, but it doesn’t look like they’re doing a ton right now. Elliott Berry (knee) remains out and won’t play in the bowl game as Butch Jones confirmed on Monday.
Bowl practice player to watch?: Bowl practice is always a time of experimentation and getting some guys some different looks. One player to keep an eye on heading into 2016 is defensive end Darrell Taylor, who is redshirting this year and has been on the scout team all season. He’s clearly packed some muscle on his frame since he first arrived over the summer and has a very impressive looking frame at this point.
It looked like he was getting some work with the tight ends as well as the defensive line on Tuesday, so while he won’t play in the Outback Bowl, store his name away as somebody to watch in spring practice and heading into next year.
• The Vols practiced inside for the second straight day
• Tennessee’s next open practice will be on Saturday at 11:30 am. The Vols are scheduled to leave for Tampa Bay on Dec. 26
• Cam Sutton and Evan Berry picked up more honors on Tuesday – being named first team All-American punt returner and kick returner, respectively, by Sporting News