The cast comes off for Tyler Bray, but thumb likely to keep him out again

QB's recovery on schedule

Derek Dooley talks about Tyler Bray

Derek Dooley on Justin Worley's play

His hand is out of the cast.

His name appears to be staying on the disabled list.

Tyler Bray took the next step in his rehabilitation from a broken thumb that has kept the Tennessee quarterback out of the last four games on Monday, getting the hard, black wrap that had been protecting his right hand removed.

But there's still plenty to do before he is officially cleared for a return, starting with medical examinations and then obviously including some throwing observations. And for now, those things strongly point to him missing at least one more outing as the Vols travel to take on No. 8 Arkansas on Saturday (TV: ESPN2, 6 p.m.).

"Tyler will get his cast off and will get evaluated," UT coach Derek Dooley said during his Monday news conference. "All right, so what does that mean? First of all, it means how is your strength to squeeze a ball, and it's going to take a little time because it's been kind of locked up there to get the range of motion back. Secondly and more importantly, how quickly has the bone healed? So, we'll X-ray it, evaluate it and take it from there.

"We don't expect him to play, I never have expected him to play this week, but that's kind of the next step in the process."

Based on the original timetable set out for Bray, the process seems to be playing out essentially as anticipated.

The Vols (4-5, 0-5 SEC) projected a six-week recovery after Bray banged his throwing hand into a Georgia helmet in the fourth quarter of a loss a month ago today, and at this point there has been no indication from the program suggesting he might be back under center any earlier than that. With the cast now off and assuming the bone is healed, UT

should be able to gauge his progress better moving forward as it tries to get a feel for his availability during another late push for a bowl bid.

But as the Vols turn their attention to the Razorbacks (8-1, 4-1) and another stiff conference test on the road, there doesn't seem to be a lot of doubt about his status this week.

"We've got to look at the X-ray, we've got to feel his strength levels, and if both of those things check out, which the likelihood is they won't, then I think we go to a CT scan, and that's the final determining factor," Dooley said. "The pain is not the issue, the pain is what he can tolerate. The issue is the bone has got to be healed, because we're not going to put him out there and the bone is almost there but it's not, because then you hit it and (get hurt again).

"The bone has to be healed, he's got to be able to tolerate the pain and be able to perform. If he can't go out there and throw it how he's used to throwing it, why play him?"

The Vols aren't going to rush Bray back regardless of the situation, but it's surely more comforting to head into another game without him than it was a week ago after a nervy debut for Justin Worley against South Carolina.

The true freshman bounced back from his rough first outing in a big way by leading an efficient 24-0 win over Middle Tennessee State on Saturday, completing 23-of-32 passes for 291 yards with a touchdown and without a turnover. And while there's not much question that Worley is only the starter until Bray is healthy, the Vols obviously haven't lost any faith in his ability to keep the seat warm.

"He performed the way we hoped he would, so we have confidence in Justin," Dooley said. "I tell you, we had it going into South Carolina, he just had first-game jitters. Now, Justin's challenge will be that he's playing on the road, he's playing an SEC team, a top-10 team, there will be a lot more adversity than he faced Saturday night.

"But you've got to get the first step before you can get the second. So, we'll see how he handles it."

In the meantime, the Vols might be keeping another eye on the handle Bray can get on the football now that there's no cast preventing it.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 55

volbob writes:

At this point, I wouldn't try to rush him back. The Arkansas game is essentially done before it starts. He will be sorely needed if there is any hope of beating Vandy. All in all, it wouldn't be worth causing more issues with the thumb by trying to come back this year. Heal up, get Hunter healed up, and try again next year. Some serious players on the OLine would be nice to find in the Christmas stocking, too. GBO

EHSvols23 writes:

I mostly agree with the view point of not playing Bray until next week. However, if he is phycially able, I would think it would be helpful to get him some live game snaps IF the game is out of hand late. Let him get the feel for things and knock some rust off if he's ready to go. Otherwise, let him sit and let's get ready for Vandy. Though I believe the wind is coming out of their sails about down the strecth, they should be up for UT game. If we let them hang around like years in the past, the game gets too close for comfort. I do believe we will need Bray to get the win. Worley is getting better, and is good enough to beat Kentucky, but I think Vandy needs a better passer and thus, passing game for a win.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say Bray maybe in another week or so? Witch Doctor say be nice to see him back at the helm again..
Bones never lie.

SummittsCourt writes:

I still think UT can beat Vandy without Bray, but with Bray it is a guaranteed win.

Either way, rock on Vols!

born2ride writes:

If there is anyway possible - Bray will be back.

mtthw741 writes:

can he throw left handed?

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

It would be foolish to put Bray in, regardless of the circumstance. We are not able to beat Ark. even with Bray.

Ark 41
UT 17

We will score those points in the 1st half. First half score Ark 21, UT 17.

VOLliven2it writes:

Make sure he is okay and if there is any hint he might reinjure it and that might be possible with Ark. hold him out longer. I would love to see him back for Vandy but do not want to risk further injury to him. I will be glad to see him back there slinging the ball around again.

OrangePsyched writes:

If the X-Ray shows the bone healed and if the score is relatively close at the half but Worley has struggled you will see Bray in this game at Arkansas. We would have to be in a position to win with Worley having problems though. Blowout and you don't risk Bray at all. CDD doesn't want the brokebacks to expect Bray. VFL!

Navaloranges writes:

in response to OrangePsyched:

If the X-Ray shows the bone healed and if the score is relatively close at the half but Worley has struggled you will see Bray in this game at Arkansas. We would have to be in a position to win with Worley having problems though. Blowout and you don't risk Bray at all. CDD doesn't want the brokebacks to expect Bray. VFL!

"brokebacks"...

Excellent.

And I agree. A much overlooked defense keeps us in the game, and we could see Bray. I've tried not to make any "predictions" all year because youth is unpredictable, but I have a feeling this team is fed up with the rhetoric. The OL this, the RB's that, at some point these guys are going to come out pi$$$ed off. I believe this will be the week. I could be worng, but I believe Dooley will get his first SEC upset, and set the stage for the rest of the season. It's time to play fast and throw the "thinking" to the wind and see if we can steal one.

Fryinpansvols writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

I still think UT can beat Vandy without Bray, but with Bray it is a guaranteed win.

Either way, rock on Vols!

I have to admit I like your confidence but in reality nothing is guaranteed. Vandy has been in pretty much every big game of late and if a few things would have went right Vandy would have beaten Arkansas and possibly Florida. In a down year for our Vols its going to be a slug fest against Vanderbilt. I simply cannot stand Vanderbilt and their fans. GBO and get well Tyler!

VolGrad writes:

GTD. But Worley will start either way next two weeks.

GBO!

flatrock writes:

Note to Vols: If Vandy allows Vols to hang around until the 4th quarter, U.T. might be able to pull out a victory. Right now, Vandy is 7-10 points better than the Vols. Sad but true. Thanks, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Kiffin and Mr. Fulmer.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

No way he plays. Own it...

dvhill100 writes:

in response to Fryinpansvols:

I have to admit I like your confidence but in reality nothing is guaranteed. Vandy has been in pretty much every big game of late and if a few things would have went right Vandy would have beaten Arkansas and possibly Florida. In a down year for our Vols its going to be a slug fest against Vanderbilt. I simply cannot stand Vanderbilt and their fans. GBO and get well Tyler!

Vandy has been in their games, yet just like always, they are able to snatch defeat out of jaws of victory. I don't think Vandy can take UT at Knoxville. Pride will be on the line.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to dvhill100:

Vandy has been in their games, yet just like always, they are able to snatch defeat out of jaws of victory. I don't think Vandy can take UT at Knoxville. Pride will be on the line.

Great test for the defense......VOLS need 21 by half.
VOLS 24 Vandy 14

movol77 writes:

in response to flatrock:

Note to Vols: If Vandy allows Vols to hang around until the 4th quarter, U.T. might be able to pull out a victory. Right now, Vandy is 7-10 points better than the Vols. Sad but true. Thanks, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Kiffin and Mr. Fulmer.

Good grief. Fulmer has been gone since 2008. You sound like Obama.

underthehill writes:

in response to Navaloranges:

"brokebacks"...

Excellent.

And I agree. A much overlooked defense keeps us in the game, and we could see Bray. I've tried not to make any "predictions" all year because youth is unpredictable, but I have a feeling this team is fed up with the rhetoric. The OL this, the RB's that, at some point these guys are going to come out pi$$$ed off. I believe this will be the week. I could be worng, but I believe Dooley will get his first SEC upset, and set the stage for the rest of the season. It's time to play fast and throw the "thinking" to the wind and see if we can steal one.

The conditions are perfect for an upset..TN defense is getting better and may be better than Ark at this point..Ark may take this game lightly..Worley looks like a winner to me (I know it was MTSU)..Rogers reponded well to an off game..if the coaches on offense set up the run with quick effective passes the run game will improve..the offense will determine whether or not TN has a chance..May not happen ..but..I watched the Vandy-Ark game and Vandy had them beat and gave it away..I HOPE the play calling is not totally PREDICTABLE and gives the offense a chance..what do I consider predictable..when me and my buddy I watch the games with can call the plays about 90% of the time..that's predictable..(we ain't real sharp if you know what I mean) ..TN 24.Ark 20 ..I hope the men in WHITE COATS don,t visit me after the game..but we'll see

shipperman#280095 writes:

Folks, Arkansas will eat us up alive. Vandy is a toss up, and beating KY will be like playing MTSU

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

I really hope he's back for the Vandy game. Don't wanna hear all the excuses when Franklin and the Dores run over this soft WAC-less attack. Unless Bray can block up front or hit the hole at RB with a passion, it will not matter. Vandy has a great pass defense, just ask Arkansas.

Chappy writes:

Depending on the severity of the fracture, thumbs usually take 6-8 weeks casted and another 1-2 weeks after the cast is removed. And that's if all things go well, there can always be minor and major complications that come up.

I wouldn't be too aggressive to get Bray back out there and risk losing him for the season.

Pipe_Down_Otis writes:

UT couldn't score but 3 points on South Carolina...Ark scored like 44...might be a long night....I bet we play the corners off, so hopefully they don't run past us for 3 or 4 long touchdowns. The thing that kept Vandy in the game against Ark was hounding Wilson and making him throw too quick or sacking him....if we don't get any pressure on him he'll pick us apart.

wagee12 writes:

in response to movol77:

Good grief. Fulmer has been gone since 2008. You sound like Obama.

The Duke of Doughnuts may have been gone since 2008, but his lousy recruiting 2006-08 left this program in a shambles. Let's see, we have Dallas Thomas, Austin Johnson and Tauren Poole left from the sinking of the Fultanic that are actually contributing this year. But hey, maybe the Weebels will hire him and you can go hang out in the Grove with Skeletor (Vicki) and the rest of the family.

TheCopper writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I would have much rather read a comment from a true vol fan.

But no, I get this idiot MerlOT. Thanks.

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

I really hope he's back for the Vandy game. Don't wanna hear all the excuses when Franklin and the Dores run over this soft WAC-less attack. Unless Bray can block up front or hit the hole at RB with a passion, it will not matter. Vandy has a great pass defense, just ask Arkansas.

Yes their pass defense is so good Aaron Murray and A.J. McCarron, both sophomores, had career days, and McCarron sat out most of the fourth quarter. Wilson of Arkansas still had over 300 yds passing. Good against who? Mediocre teams? Good against the Vols probably but what if they do win, what will they have accomplished other than getting a FOURTH win over UT in the last 4 DECADES? It's not as though Vandy will knock UT out of winning the SEC east or a BCS bowl game. About the only thing it will do is make you feel vindicated, for whatever reason you have this need. Most of us can see the obvious, UT is a poor team this season, for whatever reason. Enjoy Vandy's success while you can for the Vandy Kool-Ade will run dry too some day, probably sooner than later. If Franklin is successful there he will move on for more money, if he isn't he's probably done as a head coach, for Vandy has been notorious for being a coaches' graveyard.

Artistspot writes:

ok, folks ... let's get reality started / finished. Not going to a bowl game without T. Bray PERIOD!

Volunatic writes:

Arkansas does not have a very good defense. This game should greatly increase Worley's confidence.
Hopefully the Vol defense gets some big plays on their end, and allows Worley/Arnett/Rogers to wear out the Razorbacks' secondary.

underthehill writes:

in response to Pipe_Down_Otis:

UT couldn't score but 3 points on South Carolina...Ark scored like 44...might be a long night....I bet we play the corners off, so hopefully they don't run past us for 3 or 4 long touchdowns. The thing that kept Vandy in the game against Ark was hounding Wilson and making him throw too quick or sacking him....if we don't get any pressure on him he'll pick us apart.

Vandy did do a good job hounding Wilson and the Vandy offense did a good job running and passing the ball against a weak Ark defense..TN defense gives us a chance to win..it is up to the offense and I believe Worley will do a good job..the question with me is the offense game plan and play calling..if they are not aggressive I agree we have no chance ..if they are we MAY have a chance..I hope they will be ..TN 24-Ark 20

Volunatic writes:

in response to movol77:

Good grief. Fulmer has been gone since 2008. You sound like Obama.

2008 recruiting class makes up this season's seniors and redshirt juniors. Why don't you list the team's leaders from that recruiting class for us...

Volunatic writes:

in response to underthehill:

The conditions are perfect for an upset..TN defense is getting better and may be better than Ark at this point..Ark may take this game lightly..Worley looks like a winner to me (I know it was MTSU)..Rogers reponded well to an off game..if the coaches on offense set up the run with quick effective passes the run game will improve..the offense will determine whether or not TN has a chance..May not happen ..but..I watched the Vandy-Ark game and Vandy had them beat and gave it away..I HOPE the play calling is not totally PREDICTABLE and gives the offense a chance..what do I consider predictable..when me and my buddy I watch the games with can call the plays about 90% of the time..that's predictable..(we ain't real sharp if you know what I mean) ..TN 24.Ark 20 ..I hope the men in WHITE COATS don,t visit me after the game..but we'll see

If the men in white coats show up, just douse them with some Big Orange Kool Aid. It's good stuff.
GO VOLS!!!

underthehill writes:

in response to Artistspot:

ok, folks ... let's get reality started / finished. Not going to a bowl game without T. Bray PERIOD!

You may be underestimating Worley..he looks like a winner to me..

Volunatic writes:

in response to underthehill:

You may be underestimating Worley..he looks like a winner to me..

I agree. It will be a good feeling knowing that Tennessee has two excellent QBs ready to play.

SummerfieldVol writes:

I would not be in a hurry to get Tyler back in the game. This season is for all practical purposes over, let him play in the last game and see how he does and save him for next year. I would want a healthy quarterback next year instead of one that went back to quick and got hurt again. We know what Tyler can do, just stick with Worley and let him get more game experience.

dislikethemtrolls writes:

in response to MerlOT_GoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yaaawwwwwwwnnnnnnnn.....................

CA_vol writes:

We are missing two of our best offensive players and one or two of our best defensive players on a team that is thin on top notch talent. With those players healthy we probably would have beaten SC and maybe Georgia.

Hang in there Vols. GBO!

lomas98 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

2008 recruiting class makes up this season's seniors and redshirt juniors. Why don't you list the team's leaders from that recruiting class for us...

That 2008 class wasn't good to begin with. When players from that class leave it makes a bad class worse. Combined with what is left of Kiffin's 2009 class it will be the same next year as far as leaders go. We used to have seniors who younger guys could look up to and they would pass the baton down. That baton the last 2 years is being passed from Nick Reveiz and Austin Johnson. Great people, but not the type of players we have grown accustomed to having. The people we are leaning on to lead this team are freshmen and sophomores. This is why Dooley has to stay here 4 years before any talk of running him off.

underthehill writes:

in response to Volunatic:

If the men in white coats show up, just douse them with some Big Orange Kool Aid. It's good stuff.
GO VOLS!!!

THANKS..Good advice...

hikerdude writes:

Our defense overall is pretty good; secondary, not so much with no pressure on opponents qb from defensive line. Arkansas has great qb and good receivers. Arkansas will win easily. Sorry.

MemphisHog writes:

in response to OrangePsyched:

If the X-Ray shows the bone healed and if the score is relatively close at the half but Worley has struggled you will see Bray in this game at Arkansas. We would have to be in a position to win with Worley having problems though. Blowout and you don't risk Bray at all. CDD doesn't want the brokebacks to expect Bray. VFL!

The Hogs are preparing this week as if Bray will play, so there won't be the surprise factor if he does.

snakeplissken writes:

Since Arkansas is going to beat us anyway there's no need for Tyler to play against them. I'm not sure he'll even be ready for Vandy next week.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to wagee12:

The Duke of Doughnuts may have been gone since 2008, but his lousy recruiting 2006-08 left this program in a shambles. Let's see, we have Dallas Thomas, Austin Johnson and Tauren Poole left from the sinking of the Fultanic that are actually contributing this year. But hey, maybe the Weebels will hire him and you can go hang out in the Grove with Skeletor (Vicki) and the rest of the family.

Now the excuses are filtering to Fulmer. I guess injuries and leadership are not enough. Your very unfair and wrong about 2006-2008 recruiting. In 2006 it was ranked at 21. In 2007 it was ranked 3RD. In 2008 it was 35. Heck I was not a big Fulmer supporter but going to defend him when he needs it.

Volunatic writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Now the excuses are filtering to Fulmer. I guess injuries and leadership are not enough. Your very unfair and wrong about 2006-2008 recruiting. In 2006 it was ranked at 21. In 2007 it was ranked 3RD. In 2008 it was 35. Heck I was not a big Fulmer supporter but going to defend him when he needs it.

You seem like a genuine Vol fan instead of a troll.
If you get a chance, read this commentary about the 2006-2009 recruiting classes.
Even if you don't agree 100%, the writer presents some good insights:
http://www.rockytoptalk.com/2011/10/3...

trubleoj#657755 writes:

Let TB play vs the pigs. 3 games left in 2011. The kid is a gamer. I'll have his back from sect 112 row 8

I'll be the loud one in Big Orange.

linebam writes:

in response to CA_vol:

We are missing two of our best offensive players and one or two of our best defensive players on a team that is thin on top notch talent. With those players healthy we probably would have beaten SC and maybe Georgia.

Hang in there Vols. GBO!

...and Florida! Hunter's loss early in that game was the turning point.

snakeplissken writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Now the excuses are filtering to Fulmer. I guess injuries and leadership are not enough. Your very unfair and wrong about 2006-2008 recruiting. In 2006 it was ranked at 21. In 2007 it was ranked 3RD. In 2008 it was 35. Heck I was not a big Fulmer supporter but going to defend him when he needs it.

Funny thing is that Fulmer left Kiffin with about a dozen guys playing in the NFL now, and the best players we had Dooley's first year are playing in the NFL, too. I didn't realize Fulmer had to keep supplying players for Dooley to win.

allvols4life writes:

in response to snakeplissken:

Since Arkansas is going to beat us anyway there's no need for Tyler to play against them. I'm not sure he'll even be ready for Vandy next week.

You know..you are exactly right. Heck, why even waste the money on the trip. UT should just forfeit and save all that money and not travel. Get another bye week. Rest up for the stretch run of Vandy and Kentucky. There is a reason they play the game. Probably won't happen, but there is a slim chance TN pulls the upset.

givehim6 writes:

I am pretty much a die hard Vol fan and would love nothing more to see UT pull a upset at UARK, but with LSU beating Bama UA thinks they have a chance to be #2 in the west. So every chance they can get a W against another SEC team they will go all out. Hope UT can stay in the game till the end. If CDD can sneak Bray in in the 4th so he can get in a few reps would be good.

snakeplissken writes:

in response to allvols4life:

You know..you are exactly right. Heck, why even waste the money on the trip. UT should just forfeit and save all that money and not travel. Get another bye week. Rest up for the stretch run of Vandy and Kentucky. There is a reason they play the game. Probably won't happen, but there is a slim chance TN pulls the upset.

Sorry but there's not even a slim chance. I'm not sure our running game could get a 100 yards rushing if Arkansas didn't put a defense on the field. LOL

Tennessee using a freshman QB isn't going to work against a decent defense.

Arkansas's offense is going to light up the scoreboard.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to CroatianVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say funny thing...he was against Fulmer back then, as he was Delmonico, Pearl, Kiffen as now Dooley and soon Martin and whomever is the coach at Tennessee...Witch Doctor say Knox media has very very thin skin.(Probably Tony Basillo by some of the "personal comments" we all know hes feelings stay hurt and on here he dont have to see "eyes roll" like he does from the time he gets up! lol
Bones never lie.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

You seem like a genuine Vol fan instead of a troll.
If you get a chance, read this commentary about the 2006-2009 recruiting classes.
Even if you don't agree 100%, the writer presents some good insights:
http://www.rockytoptalk.com/2011/10/3...

Thanks,nice link. I read it. I'm not one that does not want CDD to have another year. It needs to be played out next year. I do think 7 wins next year with 3 in the sec is resonable. The recruiting has to stay at a high level though. It's OK now.

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