Tennessee's Oct. 30, 2012 practice
Tennessee running back Rajion Neal suited up, went through warm-ups and wanted desperately to play last Saturday at South Carolina.
But shortly before kickoff, Neal was told he was going to spend another week on the sidelines.
"I felt I could have (played at South Carolina), but that's just me being competitive," he said Tuesday. "But obviously my coaches and trainers know best, so they do what they have to do to protect me and make sure we don't go out there and hurt ourselves."
Neal sprained his ankle on Oct. 13 at Mississippi State when a lineman fell on top of him. He said it occurred one play after quarterback Tyler Bray banged his knee on a run.
The ankle is considerably better but might not be 100 percent until after the season, Neal said.
"I just go into every game like I'm going to play," Neal said. "I go to meetings regularly, go to (practice), move around and just prepare myself as if I'm still playing. I got a little emotional right before the game when they tell you that you're going to sit this one out. It's just tough. I try to stay positive and give all the support I can to my team."
Neal had 500 yards of rushing in six games when he went down with the injury.
"We were running the ball pretty well," said coach Derek Dooley. "I don't know how much of a difference (having Neal) would have made for the last two games. Certainly, we were running it really well (before the injury) and didn't run as well without him."
* Offensive guard Zach Fulton, who also missed the South Carolina game with an ankle injury, is day-to-day and will be evaluated later this week, Dooley said.
* It was blustery and cold during Tuesday's morning practice session. Many coaches — including Dooley — were bundled up appropriately. At least three assistant coaches and two staff members were still wearing shorts.
"This Frankenstorm is wreaking havoc on the weather," Dooley said.
Bray, who got his close-cropped haircut last week, was wearing a hood to brace against the cold.
"I cut my hair and all of a sudden it gets cold," he said. "I hope it's not like this for the game."
For what it's worth, The Weather Channel predicts a high of 70 degrees with partly cloudy skies on Saturday (TV: noon, FSTN) when UT plays Troy.
* Bray said the energy was high during practice, but that's not any different from it's been for much of the last month.
"We've lost a bunch of games in a row. We're tired of losing. We want to get a victory," Bray said. "We've been practicing like this for the past three weeks now."
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.