The leading receiver has been wearing a walking boot and requires a special mouth guard to play.
The top rusher has continued to nurse soreness and aches all over his body.
The most productive defensive player was held out of practice with a sore back.
The injuries obviously start at the top of the depth chart for Tennessee at the midway point of the season, and the Vols have tried everything from compression sleeves to new ankle braces to help deal with them during a trying 3-3 start to coach Lane Kiffin’s career. But with an open date before heading to No. 2 Alabama, UT is more than happy to handle them the old-fashioned way — with a little bit of rest.
“I’m going to head back home and just enjoy mom and family, enjoy some of that home-cooking that I need,” defensive end Chris Walker said. “I think it’s something that’s good for us.
“We came off a real big win and we just need time to sit back and enjoy it and come back to work. We need some time to enjoy where we’re at as a team right now ... then just get the rest in this week and come back to work.”
A weekend away from football figures to do more for UT’s best pass-rusher and its leader in interceptions than a few meals at home, but either way Walker should be better prepared for the stretch run thanks to the off days.
The same applies for Montario Hardesty, who has had his workload lightened in practice to lessen some of the wear and tear for a running back taking a pounding by averaging more than 20 carries per game.
It also goes for receiver Quintin Hancock, recovering from a broken jaw and a newer injury to his leg. Regular starters Vladimir Richard at left guard and defensive tackle Wes Brown are banged up too, along with a handful of other contributors at nearly every position.
That left more than a few reps for the backups during a short week of practice that was cut even further when Kiffin cancelled a workout scheduled for Thursday, but that could have a lasting positive effect for the reenergized Vols.
“This was good,” Kiffin said. “It’s good to have this week of practice over, it’s good to let our guys get off a little bit and we’ll be able to start a day earlier. We’ll start our preparation just like we did for Western Kentucky one day early, so Monday is a Tuesday and we’ll be ahead of schedule and get two Thursdays at the end of the week to have our legs ready to go.
“We had to have physical practices (this week). It’s about the whole team, so if we limited it and made it soft practices we would have a lot of guys suffering from not getting better and not keeping that competition going. That’s why we pulled a couple guys that were banged up once we got to the physical part of practice.”
That list was longer than Kiffin might have liked, but he wasn’t taking any chances with extra time to prepare for the Crimson Tide.
Richard was perhaps the only starter that would have been a major question mark if UT had a game this weekend, but nobody had to push themselves back — which might help some other Vols push them in the second half.
“You know, we still worked on a lot of things like quarterback-wide receiver timing and just overall team chemistry — you can work on that regardless of whenever you practice, however you practice,” freshman Marsalis Teague said. “So we had real good days out here, and the main thing is just trying to get those guys that are banged up, getting a lot of younger guys — that would be me — a lot of extra reps and stuff like that.
“It was very beneficial for us.”
The time away should be an even bigger benefit -- top to bottom.
Crompton Honored: Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton was voted AT&T All-America Player of the Week in fans voting for his performance against Georgia on Saturday.
Crompton completed 20 of 27 passing attempted for a career-high 310 yards and four touchdowns in the Vols’ win over Georgia. Ohio State University safety Kurt Coleman placed second, with University of South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and University of Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe placing third and fourth, respectively. Each of the players was nominated by ESPN based on their outstanding performances last week.
Fans can register to vote for the AT&T All-America Player of the Week by text messaging VOTE to 345345 on their wireless phones any time during the season. They have until 11:59 p.m. ET each Wednesday to participate in that week’s voting.