The non-contact jerseys are coming off for the Tennessee running backs, which is a positive for this week.A red jersey that was finally put on was also an encouraging sign for the Vols, even though a return is still likely a couple games away.
Freshman Devrin Young put on some pads and started fielding some kicks before practice on Tuesday morning at Haslam Field, giving UT its first look at a workout for the Bearden product since breaking his collarbone just before camp started this month.
"It was good to see him catch punts," Vols coach Derek Dooley said. "Now, he's not going to be able to get hit for a while, so he's still got a couple of weeks before he can get hit.
"But at least what it allows us to do is go practice one of the things that we signed him for, that's go back and catch some punts."
Under the watchful eye of receivers coach Charlie Baggett, Young showed no signs of problems fielding the football as he grabbed some early work with the returners -- with the last handful of reps reserved just for him as he tries to catch up after missing all of training camp with his injury.
Fellow rushers Rajion Neal and Tom Smith didn't miss quite as much time with minor knee problems, but the return of both to full-contact work is a welcome sign for a team that is looking to take advantage of more depth in the backfield starting with the season opener against Montana on Saturday (TV: PPV, 6 p.m.).
"That was big for us," Dooley said. "(Neal and Smith) needed to get the red off, I felt like, before the game. They need to get hit, they need to fall down, they need to make a cut in traffic and they all did that today.
"Hopefully they'll (both) be full-go on Saturday."
Young won't be ready in time for the Grizzlies. But he's now clearly closer to some game action.
More details later online and in Wednesday's News Sentinel. Follow@Vols_Beat on Twitter.