Tennessee returned to Haslam Field Monday morning to start off the second week of fall camp. The Vols were in full pads and were tuning up for the first scrimmage of fall camp on Tuesday morning.
Here’s our notes and observations from Tennessee’s seventh fall practice
Let’s start with the participation level of a few guys as Tennessee enters the heart of fall camp. Jerome Carvin was back in full pads after spending Sunday morning in shells.
Jaylen Wright remains in full pads and his normal white practice jersey but continues to work off to the side for much of the drill portion of practice.
We noted Sunday that a trainer was stretching Bru McCoy’s lower leg. McCoy was on the practice field Monday but was only in shells as he and Wright worked together off to the side during the open portion of practice.
Tennessee’s quarterbacks and receivers focused on red zone work at the beginning of practice. The Vols did drills with slot receivers working in motion and with the quarterbacks rolling to both sides.
Throwing on the run was one of Hooker’s few weaknesses a season ago and coincidence or not, Tennessee has frequently done throwing while moving drills the first seven days of fall camp.
Tennessee’s running back work was much of the same to start the week as the group worked on cuts and protecting the football. Jabari Small unsurprisingly led the way during drill work and Justin Williams-Thomas, Dylan Sampson and Lyn-J Dixon followed him in that order.
Williams-Thomas may be the most important player in the running back room in my estimation. He has a physicality that none of the other scholarship running backs have. If the freshman can show consistency and avoid the freshman wall I think he helps this team.
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Let’s start with the defensive backs who had some movement on the participation level of players. Freshman Christian Harrison joined super senior Cheyenne LaBruzza in a red non contact jersey Monday.
We pondered on Sunday about when Christian Charles would take the red jersey off and be at full speed competing for a starting spot at cornerback. That day was today as Charles had his orange practice jersey on for the first time this fall.
Fellow cornerback Kamal Hadden remained absent at practice for the fourth straight day.
The linebackers joined the defensive backs for a session to work on goal line zone defense. Tennessee’s assistant coaches walked the back seven through slow motion route patterns explaining the handoffs and concepts players have to know.
With Hadden sidelined, Brandon Turnage earned first team reps during the drill. Speaking of rep orders, Wesley Walker continues to rep near the top in most defensive back drills and that continued in the red zone portion of practice where he worked at STAR.
Junior college cornerback transfer Dee Williams received some special instruction from both Willie Martinez and Warren Burrell during the drill.
The linebacker room remains healthy to this point and Juwan Mitchell really seems to be carving out a much bigger role. Yes, the Texas transfer was hurt for the majority of last season but Mitchell struggled even while healthy.
Mitchell looks the part and is poised to give Tennessee a trio of solid linebackers in himself, Jeremy Banks and Aaron Beasley. Solon Page III is right behind them and the steady hand is bound to earn snaps in his super senior season.
In a surprising turn of events, defensive line coach Rodney Garner didn’t seem overly angry at his group to start the week. No one drew an outburst from the veteran coach as Tennessee’s defensive linemen did ladder drills and some sled work.
We’ll see if Tennessee’s defensive line kept Garner happy throughout the full practice as the assistant coach will meet with the local media following Monday morning’s practice.