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Heupel Updates Cedric Tillman’s Status To Kick Off Kentucky Week

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Tennessee WR Cedric Tillman. Photo via Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee receiver Cedric Tillman hasn’t suited up since exiting the Vols’ win over Akron all the way back on Sept. 17.

No. 3 Tennessee’s matchup against No. 19 Kentucky Saturday comes six weeks after Tillman suffered the ankle injury that required “tightrope” surgery. Could Tillman make his return to the field against the Wildcats?

“Cedric, we will continue to evaluate here as he goes through practices this week,” Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel said Monday.

Heupel’s comments echo much of what he’s said for the last five weeks surrounding the preseason All-SEC receiver’s status. However, there’s a few indicators that give us an idea of when Tillman can be back on the field.

The second year head coach said that Tillman had the surgery, in part, to “try and be back” for Tennessee’s matchup against Alabama. Tillman didn’t end up playing or dressing out against the Crimson Tide but Heupel’s comments indicated progress in Tillman’s recovery.

There was little reason for Tillman to return to the field against UT Martin, but the next two weeks (Kentucky and Georgia) are Tennessee’s two most daunting tasks remaining in the regular season.

The general recovery period for “tightrope” surgery is four-to-six weeks making a possible return for Alabama plausible but a return against Kentucky more likely.

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Former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagavailoa twice had the surgery while in Tuscaloosa and returned to the field in four weeks or less both times. However, having enough mobility to return and play as a quarterback is much different than having enough mobility to return and play as a receiver.

Tillman isn’t the only Tennessee player questionable for Saturday’s game. Cornerbacks Kamal Hadden and Christian Charles as well as offensive tackle Gerald Mincey are all questionable to play and missed last week’s win over UT Martin.

Senior safety Jaylen McCollough is also questionable to play with his ongoing legal situation. The Knoxville Police Department arrested and charged McCollough with aggravated assault after an intoxicated male mistakenly entered his apartment and the McCollough punched him.

The University of Tennessee has processed the situation and have approved his return to the field. However, the football program is waiting for the legal situation to resolve before permitting his return to the field.

Tennessee and Kentucky kick off at 7 p.m. ET at Neyland Stadium Saturday night. Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Holly Rowe are on the call for ESPN.

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