Butch Jones: We Would Never Knowingly Put an Athlete in Harms Way

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    Butch Jones spoke to the reporters on Wednesday for his final media availability before the Vols match-up with Southern Miss this weekend.

    Jones discussed the report about Brett Kendrick’s injury, the depth of his offensive line, and how his wide receivers have made progress over the past few games.

    Here are the highlights of his comments.

    Injury Report

    Butch Jones made it clear that he wouldn’t comment on private information when it came to injuries today.

    He was adamant that he has no say on when a player is taken out of the game when it comes to concussions.

    “I don’t know. That’s up to our medical people and our athletic department,” he said to the media on Wednesday. “Everything goes through our medical staff. I have no say in those decisions.”

    Jones alluded to John Currie’s comments this morning when he was asked about Kendrick’s injury, referring back to the athletic director’s statement regarding student-athlete’s safety and health.

    “We would never knowingly put an athlete in harms way,” Jones added.

    In related news, Kendrick will not be available for this weekend’s game against Southern Miss. Offensive lineman Marcus Tatum is also out, and Drew Richmond is considered questionable at this time.

    But Jones did say that running back John Kelly and linebacker Will Ignont will both be available on Saturday. The two were suspended for the Kentucky game.

    O-Line Personnel Change

    Redshirt freshmen Devante Brooks and Ryan Johnson may play tackle this weekend against Southern Miss.

    With Kendrick and Tatum out, the Vols have to turn to a new contributor on the offensive line. Trey Smith is also a candidate to move outside.

    “Trey Smith gives us some flexibility inside and outside,” Jones said said.

    “Devante is a very cerebral player,” Jones added. “He plays at a very good pad level. Trey is an individual who has practiced tackle in spring football.”

    That group was one of the deepest on Tennessee’s rosters coming into the season. But now it’s one of the most banged up position groups on the roster.

    “Usually it runs in patterns,” Jones said. “It’s been different kinds of injuries. It’s hit a couple position groups this season. We felt that was probably the most complete depth in our football program, and it’s one of those years that’s affected that position group.”

    Wideouts/Chandler

    UT’s wide receivers made considerable progress against Kentucky, according to Jones.

    He singled out a few young guys who he thought made a big impact.

    “They made progress. It was great to see Josh Palmer step up, but also generate two pass interference penalties. I was excited about Tyler Byrd as well. I would say that’s probably, the injury situation, affected us at that position as well,” Jones said.

    Ty Chandler will also feature a lot in the passing game moving forward. Jones said that they’re trying to find ways to get him more involved for the rest of the season.

    “That’s the evolution that he’s going through as a true freshman,” Jones said. “He’s done a good job mastering the pass protections and the technique that goes along with pass protection. There are some things that he does very well. We’re trying to find ways to get both of those individuals on the field at the same time.”