Sophomore defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie is out for the season, Butch Jones confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.
McKenzie suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the first half of UT’s matchup against No. 1 Alabama on Saturday afternoon.
McKenzie appeared in seven games this year as part of the defensive tackle rotation, recording 12 tackles and half a tackle for loss. The Vols are down to two experienced scholarship defensive tackles – Kendal Vickers and Shy Tuttle. Sophomore Quay Picou saw his first extensive action against Alabama as well.
Jones said junior college transfer Alexis Johnson is battling a hip flexor strain, and did not dress out for the Alabama game because of that injury.
Jones mentioned Kyle Phillips, Jonathan Kongbo and Derek Barnett as versatile defensive linemen who can slide inside and help out in the interior, but also noted that the Vols will have to be creative schematically as they deal with the injuries.
Kamara rumors: Butch Jones was also asked about rumors and reports that Alvin Kamara is battling a knee injury. Jones said it’s a “wait-and-see” situation, while saying that he, like many other players is banged up. Kamara had eight carries for 21 yards and two catches for seven yards against Alabama.
He appeared to be slowed after taking a late hit on the sideline following a punt return, but was able to return to the game after that point.
Jones said that due to the volume of “inaccurate” injury reports, he is going to continue to limit how much he reveals about injuries, saying that the media needs to respect the players more.
Practice schedule: Jones said the team will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but many of the players will spend the week in the training room.
Other injury notes: While Jones started the press conference out by indicating that he wouldn’t be giving formal injury updates beyond the news on McKenzie, he did go on to say later that he, “anticipate all our players, for the most part, being ready…a lot of those will be back to 100%” for UT’s next game at South Carolina on Oct. 29.
Jack Jones, Alvin Kamara, Brett Kendrick, Chance Hall, Jashon Robertson, Dylan Wiesman, Malik Foreman, Cortez McDowell and Darrin Kirkland Jr. are among the players who have some form of confirmed injury, reported injury or have missed time recently.