Butch Jones had several updates to give regarding some injured Vols during his weekly press conference on Wednesday. Some of the updates were promising, while others weren’t as positive.
According to Jones, linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. went through surgery on Wednesday morning and he said he would “know a little more” about a timetable later on. Jones confirmed that Kirkland sustained a meniscus injury. Senior Colton Jumper will be starting in Kirkland’s place at inside linebacker for the foreseeable future.
Butch Jones had more optimistic news to give about two other injured Vols. Jones stated that Josh Smith will practice on Wednesday and could be available for the Vols’ opener against Georgia Tech. It was reported last week that Smith’s injury wasn’t as severe as anticipated, but the timetable still remained a little cloudy for his return. Now Jones seems optimistic Smith may not miss any time at all.
Another oft-injured Vol, defensive tackle Shy Tuttle, has progressed well enough to the point where Jones thinks he could see playing time in the season opener.
Tuttle suffered a season-ending injury in the Vols’ game against South Carolina last season and has been recovering ever since. He sat out spring practice and began fall camp very limited. However, Jones said Tuttle’s progress has been so rapid that the junior defensive tackle will dress out and be available in Atlanta to start the season.
Jones also stated that he expects kick return specialist Evan Berry to play against Georgia Tech.