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The Tennessee football team almost was set for its annual team photo when two players came hobbling across the field at Neyland Stadium and a third pulled up in the back of a cart.
All were on crutches. All were tight ends.
The latest cruel twist at what once was a position of strength for the Vols came when sophomore tight end Brendan Downs suffered a serious knee injury in Friday night's scrimmage.
Coach Derek Dooley said Downs dislocated his patella and would miss a "chunk" of the season. That leaves little depth behind starting tight end Mychal Rivera, who also has missed much of camp with an injury.
"Nobody wants to move there anymore," Dooley said. "I went to three guys and they said, 'Hell no, I'm not moving to tight end.' They wondered what I was doing to them."
The dismissal of sophomore Cameron Clear in May started the depletion of the Vols' tight end depth. Since camp opened, Rivera, Downs, Justin Meredith, Joseph Ayres and Dakota Summers have suffered injuries.
"We don't have enough," Dooley said. "We came in (to camp) feeling good, and we're coming out saying, 'We're in trouble.' "
"We're not going to change our offense," Dooley said, "but we may move some parts around."
The good news is that Rivera's knee injury doesn't seem serious and the senior knows the offense well enough to miss time and still return without missing a beat.
"Mike will be back," said tight ends and special teams coach Charlie Coiner. "He's an old hat here. We'd love to have him (practicing), but it's not critical."
Coiner said the lack of depth at the position harkens back to his time as an assistant in the NFL, where the 53-man roster (and 45-man active roster) made the depth of college a luxury.
"You coach what you have," Coiner said. "I hate it for Brendan and (the other injured players). But as a coach, you work with what you have and try to prepare them as best you can."
Right now, Coiner has two reliable options — Rivera and senior Ben Bartholomew, who is listed as a fullback but can play a sort of hybrid role between the two positions. Freshman Justin King moved from linebacker to tight end, but is currently concentrating more on fullback.
Dooley called Bartholomew a "putty guy" because of his versatility. Coiner plans to take full advantage of it.
"I'll lean on my NFL experience: You go into games all the time with two tight ends," Coiner said. "I'd rather not, but if you do, you do. I know those two can go into a game and do a good job for us."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.