A couple of players were held out of practice Thursday, the final "physical" session of Tennessee's open week.
Daniel Gray, a freshman cornerback, was sidelined by "concussion-like symptoms,'' coach Derek Dooley said.
Gray's injury came Wednesday in practice. While there's no reason to think Gray won't be ready for the Oct. 13 visit to Starkville, Miss., to play Mississippi State, the missed practice time this week isn't a good thing. Gray was one of several young defensive backs the coaches were hoping to work extensively this week.
Senior offensive lineman Dallas Thomas also sat out Thursday. Dooley said Thomas could use the day off to heal.
Dooley pronounced it a good week of practice, with two physical days of work.
"I didn't come off any day saying they weren't ready to go,'' he said, "but this team has been that way the whole year.
"They're a good group, They're a focused group. That doesn't mean they're coming out there 'cant wait to practice on an open date' but they're very workmanlike.''
Today will be limited to some conditioning and weight work, then the squad will be dismissed for a "48-hour hall pass,'' Dooley said.
"They need to manage it the right way so they can come back fresh and ready to go.''
Thursday morning's session included an introduction to Mississippi State's formations.
The Vols last played the Bulldogs in 2008 and have not faced the Dan Mullen-coached version. Mullen took over for Sylvester Croom in 2009.
"It was like a Monday practice,'' Dooley said, "just kind of introducing what they do, their fronts, their base runs, their throws, their personnel. We'll come back on Monday and get after it pretty good.''
Open dates have forever been a subject of debate as to their timing and benefit. That also goes for the open week of practice.
With three SEC games against ranked opponents — State, Alabama and South Carolina — to finish the month, Dooley said sometimes it's better to keep banging than to ease off.
"Sometimes a lot of rest before a lot of physicality doesn't help you,'' he said. "Usually, when I give these guys a couple days off the first day back they're terrible.
"But when you just keep hitting 'em all the time, they just keep going. Your body adjusts to the amount of stress you put on it.''