Down, Not Out:
First things first, here are the guys that have been battling injury who seems to be unlimited on the practice field on Tuesday:
Darrin Kirkland Jr.
Malik Foreman also made his return, but in a green non-contact jersey. His movement didn’t seemed limited in any capacity, however.
So, what does it all mean?
On the Line:
As Butch Jones indicated on Monday, the offensive line appears to be in much better shape after a multitude of injuries during the Alabama game.
Brett Kendrick, Chance Hall, Jashon Robertson, and Jack Jones were all out on the field, and they appeared to be moving well.
There’s a real chance that UT’s entire O-line could be back, but if not, you have to feel better about playing guys like Drew Richmond or Venzell Boulware, both of whom saw significant time against Alabama. Boulware, Coleman Thomas, and Drew Richmond all received significant reps on Tuesday. It seemed to be a particularly good bye week, and practice, for Richmond.
Marcus Tatum experienced a bit of trial by fire against Alabama as well, but he is a guy that we may continue to see getting some snaps in the next few weeks.
The Other Side:
Quay Picou was a guy who received a noticeably-increased number of reps at DT. After losing Danny O’Brien to dismissal and Kahlil McKenzie to injury, he looks to be the next man up behind Kendal Vickers and Big Shy Tuttle.
Behind the Line:
Bob Shoop is finally able to return some depth to the linebacker position heading to South Carolina this week. Darrin Kirkland Jr. makes his return after his injury all the way back in Bristol. Cortez McDowell, who has stepped up in Kirkland’s absence, returned this week as well and will most likely continue to rotate there.
Josh Smith, as he has in games, continues to be a solid option at punt return. It looks like Evan Berry should be back returning kicks once again.
It’s been said over and over, but this bye week could not have come at a better time for Butch Jones. The past few days have been extremely important in terms of getting these guys back, especially on the offensive line. The team seemed re-energized and ready to head into this five week haul- a haul that will be crucial in determining the fate of Team 120.