'Establishing the personality' hurts

Defensive unit thinned in practice by 'nicks and bruises'

Vlad shows off some sweet moves

Eight days into Tennessee's preseason camp, you could assemble a pretty fair defensive unit.

Unfortunately, we're just talking about the guys standing on the sidelines with a variety of ailments.

By Wednesday night, for example, the defensive tackle ranks were cut in half: four healthy bodies, four held out.

Projected starter Dan Williams and junior Victor Thomas were no-go, along with Wes Brown and Andre Mathis.

Williams was not anywhere to be seen at practice, but defensive line coach Ed Orgeron downplayed his absence.

"Everybody's got nicks and bruises,'' Orgeron said. "It's just part of camp. The guys are going to be OK.''

Brown, who has two surgically repaired knees, did work Wednesday morning. The senior watched the evening session, encouraging younger players.

Potential starting linebackers Rico McCoy and LaMarcus Thompson remained sidelined, along with Herman Lathers.

Chris Walker, a projected starter at defensive end, was held out, as were defensive backs Art Evans, Stephaun Raines and Brent Vinson.

UT coach Lane Kiffin said the number of banged-up players is an unfortunate but necessary side effect of a new regime setting a tempo.

"Unfortunately we've had five or six concussions and some other injuries,'' he said, "but when you're establishing the personality of a team that first year, I think that's part of it.

"If we knew our team better, if we were in our second, third or fourth year, we wouldn't have to practice this hard at times because we'd know some guys.

"As I've said before, I don't know anything about these players. We don't know how they respond.''

Kiffin said it's important that the learning process continues apace. In other words: Damn the ice packs, full speed ahead.

"If we slow ourselves up to the guys that are injured,'' he said, "we're not maximizing our potential of the guys that are healthy.

"So we've got to continue to push our guys, continue to install, continue to practice at a high level.''

Of course, the positive spin is that one player's misfortune is another's opportunity.

The scarcity of healthy bodies at defensive tackle gives Rae Sykes, Chase Nelson and true freshman Arthur Jeffery a chance to get meaningful work alongside Montori Hughes.

"We're building depth,'' Orgeron said.

Building depth is an especially urgent project at linebacker. Freshmen Greg King, Jerod Askew, Robert Nelson and Nigel Mitchell-Thornton are getting more reps than they might have anticipated.

King, especially, has been working with Nick Reveiz and Savion Frazier on the No. 1 unit.

Askew has been coming on this week.

"Askew started slow,'' Kiffin said. "He got to us late this summer and I think you can see what a great offseason program that we had because the guys that got here later have taken a little bit of transition time compared to the guys that were here in the beginning like Bryce (Brown).

"Askew has had a really good week. Greg King continues to flash, so we're very excited about our young linebackers.''

The offense has been closer to full strength. However, receiver Gerald Jones (leg) did not practice Wednesday.

Waiver For Walls: The defensive tackle pool would love to add signee Marlon Walls, who has been prevented from reporting to campus by the NCAA Clearinghouse on initial eligibility.

Kiffin said UT has filed a waiver on Walls' behalf.

"Hopefully they'll figure it out as soon as possible and he'll get here,'' Kiffin said.

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Comments » 18

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Lawd, let the personality be one of pride walking off the field having given their all for the Orange.

Bring the true competive nature back we have missed for several years during our descent into mediocrity

troken writes:

Free Walls!

chargervol writes:

Don't worry, they will be fine. They will be deeper than any of the analyst are saying. There is talent at Tennessee, and Lane and company are going to have people around the country saying "I thought this was a rebuilding year" and "They sure do look like they will be playing for championships, very soon". ESPN will even have to say "the talent gap between Tennessee and the other top-notch teams doesn't seem to be noticeable". GO VOLS!!!

GatorHater326 writes:

It's a month before the first game...outside of broken bones or an ACL injury.. the healing time line for all other body parts is well within the next four weeks unless something has ruptured, but I don't think anything with the word rupture to describe it would be seen as a nick or bruise. It will be fine. Then again it could be like Bear Bryant's Junction boys where no one is healthy enough to play the season. LOL

1974Vol writes:

in response to tweetdriver63#346474:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Tweet, once 2 adays start no one is really healthy again until the seasons over. Everyone has bruises, sprains, jammed fingers, etc. What is so amazing is when they announce "Its Football Time in Tennessee" and these guys run through the "T" all the little hurts go away - at least until Sunday morning.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

very encouraging news coming out of camp. sounds like the depth is being built up and the coaches know what they are doing. hope all this shows up in the effort given and the record at the end of the season.

xvolx writes:

Anyone that has ever played organized football knows that you get hurt every day in practice. Most are just bumps and bruises. Painful but not but not enough to keep you away from practice the next day. It gets in your blood. Part of the deal.

UrbanCryer writes:

i trust the coaches until proven otherwise

RockinTop writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Get real man! Dont fall into Strange's spin....players get hurt in this game called football... In practice and game day....personally I think it's time to lock up practices and keep the media idiots out for a while.

Go Big Orange!

Joevolsxtra writes:

Good to know that we get concussions in parctice now. I heard that last year some guys practiced with an egg in their helmet and it didn't even crack!

SEC__Headgear writes:

I hope you are all right about this personality building. Injuries seem to have a cummulative effect on a team during the season so IF they can get healthy before the games start there will be benefit in the 2's and 3's getting equal work at the 1's during our fall practice.
I know we are still sorting out who really are the 1's and 2's and I also know that a lot of probable 1's will be 1's on September 5 with less experience and knowledge with the new systems. The $64 question is Can they be effective? I hope so.
So far pre-season Kiffin sounds like off-season Kiffin.... "It just looks like that didn't work out so well but we had to do it and we meant to do it."
When it comes to W's and L's that explaination won't fly.

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to Joevolsxtra:

Good to know that we get concussions in parctice now. I heard that last year some guys practiced with an egg in their helmet and it didn't even crack!

Now, that's funny, Joe!! Unfortunately, probably true!! LOL

VolFanInAtl writes:

The line between a hard practice an an abusive practice should be something that coaches with this level of experience know how to find. I hope they realize that; unlike pro ball players, these kids will literally play their hearts out. I'm sure these coaches know the difference, they've coached at these levels before.

rockytopatl writes:

in response to chargervol:

Don't worry, they will be fine. They will be deeper than any of the analyst are saying. There is talent at Tennessee, and Lane and company are going to have people around the country saying "I thought this was a rebuilding year" and "They sure do look like they will be playing for championships, very soon". ESPN will even have to say "the talent gap between Tennessee and the other top-notch teams doesn't seem to be noticeable". GO VOLS!!!

Great post, Charger. I agree 100 percent.

gbeejr#1354500 writes:

Waiver for Marlon Walls? Eligibility issue resolved with a waiver?? What exactly are they talking about???

RoadTrip writes:

in response to gbeejr#1354500:

Waiver for Marlon Walls? Eligibility issue resolved with a waiver?? What exactly are they talking about???

It means his eligibility is still in question until the clearinghouse decision, however, a waiver allows him to practice in anticipation of a favorable ruling. So the AD and coaching staff feel reasonably confident he will be deemed eligible or they would not apply for the waiver. They act on waivers pretty quickly.

Just a guess - there is probably an investigator researching his case, and/or they have requested more info from a former school that they have yet not received.

givehim6 writes:

Brings a new meaning to early playing time for freshmen players.

volunteermailman writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

trust me they are keeping them out so they dont get hurt if they werent tough they wouldnt be playing in the SEC

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