Tennessee freshman defensive end Ben Martin doesn't have torn knee ligaments, as many in the program first believed following his non-contact injury in last Saturday night's scrimmage.
Arthroscopic surgery Tuesday revealed only a deep bone bruise. He is expected to miss two to four weeks instead of the entire season.
Injury news ruled the day in Tuesday's final preseason scrimmage, other than Saturday's kicking scrimmage.
Linebacker Ryan Karl returned to full contact for the first time since the Orange and White Game, having been sidelined with a sore back caused by an offseason weight room accident.
"The first couple of plays, I had a little jitters," said Karl, who said focusing on improving his endurance is the pressing challenge.
Junior Jerod Mayo said having Karl on the field - especially because he makes the defensive calls - was great.
"Having that experience out there plays a key role for this defense," Mayo said. "It's different. When he's out there, the tempo of the defense, the tone, everything changes. I'm real excited to have him back out there."
Had Karl not been able to practice with the first team Tuesday, the Vols would have been forced to insert their fourth-string strongside linebacker during preseason camp. Backup Ellix Wilson is still sidelined with a knee injury. Junior Adam Myers-White, Karl's recent replacement, was sidelined with an injured finger on his left hand.
Senior tight end Brad Cottam left practice early and will undergo an X-ray on his left wrist after dropping what would have been a long touchdown pass.
Sophomore center Josh McNeil missed his second straight practice with a flu-like illness after battling through symptoms last Saturday.
With McNeil absent, UT tried junior Anthony Parker at center, sliding second-string center Michael Frogg, a senior, to right guard.
Freshman receiver Gerald Jones spent Tuesday's practice on a stationary bike as he tried to rehabilitate a sore hamstring.
As expected, junior kicker/punter Britton Colquitt did not practice as he rehabilitates a pulled quadriceps muscle.
In his place, Daniel Lincoln hit 6-of-7 field goals. The longest was 38 yards. Fellow freshman Chad Cunningham punted six times for a 40.3-yard average. His longest was 53 yards.
Tight End Troubles:
Chris Brown offered a theory as to why he and his fellow tight ends have dropped several passes this preseason.
"I think it's just been a lack of focus on our part," the senior said. "The ball's been there. We have to catch the ball when it comes our way. That's what we're here for. We have to make the plays."
Brown said dropped passes have been an issue, whether practice has been open to the media or not.
"We've dropped balls in practice. We've dropped balls in public," Brown said. "But we've caught a lot. You have to do it on the big stage. Hopefully, when California comes around, we'll get on the big stage, perform and make the big plays we needs to make."
Freshman receiver Denarius Moore seems to have cemented his place on UT's travel squad for the opener at California. Moore made an athletic one-handed catch for a 9-yard gain and nearly kept his feet in bounds to secure a deep, downfield pass, as he twisted 180 degrees to secure the pass which was out of bounds.
Taylor said it appeared that Moore had no missed assignments or alignments. He finished the scrimmage with two receptions for 22 yards.
"I think he's ready to go," senior quarterback Erik Ainge said.
Oh No, O'Neal:
Junior receiver Kenny O'Neal had a tough time Tuesday. A hard, well placed hit from sophomore Dorian Davis knocked the ball loose after a short reception.
Initially, the ball seemed to be recovered by offensive lineman Ramon Foster before the junior dropped it. The loose ball was then recovered by sophomore running back Montario Hardesty for a 6-yard loss.
O'Neal also dropped a pass that could have converted a third-and-long.
"He better go out there and make the plays," receivers coach Trooper Taylor said. "If he doesn't, we'll make sure somebody will."
Freshman Dennis Rogan returned an interception off sophomore Jonathan Crompton 41 yards. Rogan, a former Fulton High School star, also forced a fumble with a hard hit on sophomore receiver Quintin Hancock
Ainge on O'Brien List:
Ainge has been named to the Davey O'Brien award watch list, along with 35 other quarterbacks from around the country. Ohio State's Troy Smith won last year's award, which is presented annually to the best quarterback in college football.
Ups And Downs:
At the behest of his teammates, Karl performed a set of up-downs following practice because he forgot to wear knee pads.
"They caught me," said a smiling, out of breath Karl during interviews following practice.
Redshirt Stephens Nick Stephens completed an 88-yard touchdown pass to freshman Ahmad Paige in third team versus third team drills.
Freshman receiver Brent Vinson could soon move to the secondary, UT coach Phillip Fulmer said on Vol Calls on Monday evening.