Gerald Jones and Eric Gordon don't have the best on-field relationship.
"Me and Eric, we go at it," said Jones, Tennessee's senior receiver. "I swear, if you saw us practice, you wouldn't think we liked each other."
The feelings are mutual.
"Those guys (the receivers) are my buddies off the field, but when you're on the field there's no homeboys," said Gordon, a redshirt freshman cornerback.
"I've got to get those guys ready for Saturdays. I feel like they're not going to face a better corner than me."
"Feisty, physical, he's a pain in my you-know-what," Jones joked. "But I love it, he gets me better every day and reminds me how physical I need to be."
Gordon and the rest of UT's secondary drew compliments from coach Derek Dooley following Monday's practice.
"Compared to where we were this spring," Dooley said, "we're light years ahead."
The Vols were without two cornerbacks in the spring. Junior Art Evans, a returning starter, was sidelined after shoulder surgery, and Marsalis Teague was still playing receiver.
Teague, a sophomore out of Henry County High School in Paris, was moved to defense at the beginning of fall camp, a change that has brought positive returns thus far.
"He's doing a hell of a job," Jones said. "He's really surprised me."
Teague gives the Vols a dynamic option when UT goes to its nickel package.
"Marsalis Teague has been just a tremendous addition, and he's going to be a real key player for us," Dooley said. "He's a good athlete, and he's the perfect corner prospect, and I think he'll get better in time."
Gordon has also drawn a lion's share of praise.
"Eric Gordon has been getting better every week," Dooley said. "He gets out of position, but then he recovers and he's made a lot of plays. In the spring he wasn't recovering as well. What he's learned to do is not panic."
Jones calling Gordon "feisty" drew a solid laugh from the former Nashville Hillsboro standout.
"It's probably pretty accurate," Gordon said. "I'm trying to take one of their heads off every play. You've got to be aggressive. It's my style."
Jones battles Gordon's aggressiveness and UT's secondary every day in practice, so his assessments are accurate.
"Athletically, they're just phenomenal," he said.
"I'm confident that they'll get the job done."
King Returns: Linebacker Greg King returned to practice after suffering a deep bone bruise in his surgically repaired knee.
"I feel wonderful," said the sophomore, a former standout at Memphis Melrose. "I feel like I could run a thousand miles."
Status Update: Dooley had no news on freshman receiver Justin Hunter's status, though optimism remains.
Hunter, who's waiting on the resolution of an issue with the NCAA Clearinghouse, was at practice Monday wearing a boot on his sore foot.
Dooley said Hunter's situation surprised him.
"That was sort of a left hook from the sky," he said, "but there's nothing we can do about it but sit and wait."
Dooley also had no news on defensive back signee Eddrick Loften.
Fullback Kevin Cooper and safety Brent Brewer, who injured his groin in Saturday's scrimmage, also didn't practice but worked out on the side.
Game Day Changes: UT has changed the start of the "Vol Walk," the team's walk across campus to the stadium, to two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff.
The Pride of the Southland Band's "Salute to the Hill" march will begin an hour and 40 minutes before the game.
Patrick Brown is a freelance contributor.