Derek Dooley on Tyler Bray and Justin Worley
Tyler Bray is ready to return to practice.
That doesn't necessarily guarantee the Tennessee quarterback will be back on the field for a game just yet, but the odds have clearly improved.
The sophomore was turning heads during warmups on Saturday before a loss to Arkansas that he couldn't contribute to, and that combined with the clearance from the doctors has opened up the possibility that Bray could be under center for the first time in five games when UT hosts Vanderbilt with its postseason life on the line at Neyland Stadium on Saturday (TV: ESPNU, 7 p.m.).
"I guess the question this week is going to be Tyler, and he's been cleared to go ahead and start practicing, which is right on schedule with what we expected," UT coach Derek Dooley said during his Monday press conference. "I would probably list him, if I had to say a word, it's questionable and I really won't know until we start practicing to see how he can take a snap, how accurately he can throw it, and then he's going to have a learning curve because he's been out of ball for five, six weeks. That's a long time, so we'll see.
"We've still got to get the other guys ready to play and we'll just kind of take it day by day."
The next big one will be Tuesday, and Bray is expected to receive first-team snaps with the offense as he tries to shake off any accumulated rust from the broken thumb that sidelined him for more than a month.
How many reps he gets when the Vols (4-6, 0-6 SEC) get back to work preparing for the Commodores (5-5, 2-5) and how well he handles them will help determine his official status for the weekend, and Dooley didn't establish any public timeline for making that decision.
"We've talked about it," he said. "But probably the reality is, if he's ready to go, we'd be crazy not to at least give him a shot given the inconsistency that we've had at that position."