Rajion Neal not 100 percent, but could play Saturday

Tennessee running back Rajion Neal (20) runs a practice drill before an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Tennessee running back Rajion Neal (20) runs a practice drill before an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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.

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Comments » 26

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

Maybe Neal can run alot and keep the UT defense off the field!

Vol1973 writes:

Play him only if you need him... don't risk aggravating injury until Missouri.

OrangePride writes:

I would be sparing with Neal. Young and Lane should be able to produce more than enough run game this week. Frankly, a run game and ball control will be just what we need to keep Troy from exploiting our exceptionally bad pass defense....keep em on the sidelines. That said, it will surprise no one to give up yet another 500 yard performance on Saturday. We are pitiful on that side of the ball. But, we are where we are, so Vols need to go win these next games and finally play some winning football. GO VOLS!

jobrando#216494 writes:

Surely he want be needed for TROY.
VOLS 62 Troy 3 (it should be the score)

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to OrangePride:

I would be sparing with Neal. Young and Lane should be able to produce more than enough run game this week. Frankly, a run game and ball control will be just what we need to keep Troy from exploiting our exceptionally bad pass defense....keep em on the sidelines. That said, it will surprise no one to give up yet another 500 yard performance on Saturday. We are pitiful on that side of the ball. But, we are where we are, so Vols need to go win these next games and finally play some winning football. GO VOLS!

Yea, finally back to winning. The second season will be 4-0

6972 writes:

Glad he is better. Hopefull he will not re-injur the ankle. Question: Can he play corner or safety?

DD: lawyer, coach, weatherman...."This Frankenstorm is wrecking havoc on the weather". Really? Sorry about that...the devil made me do it. I am really a nice guy, I just have a lot of bad habits.

FWBVol writes:

I think we should beat Troy by three touchdowns and our offense will do well with or without Rajion in the lineup.

But anyone that thinks Troy is going to roll over in Neyland is sadly mistaken. Larry Blakeny is a very good coach and Troy recruits well in Alabama and North Florida.

No, the Trojans don't sign the type of football players that Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Tennessee usually get, but there are a lot of good solid football players on the squad that I saw play high school ball.

VolGrad writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Surely he want be needed for TROY.
VOLS 62 Troy 3 (it should be the score)

I think Troy will score more than 3 pts. They lost to MSU by only 6 points, scoring 24. Their passing offense is ranked 21st while our passing defense is currently 102nd. Granted our schedule has been quite a bit tougher than theirs. Still, they will probably score at least 10 on us. They could score considerably more if we continue to give up big plays on defense. But running the ball effectively will definitely factor into that for this game as well.

I don't think we'll need to risk further injury to Raijon, and our other backs need the game time reps. We might see Raijon on a limited number of reps in this game. Troy's rush defense is at 68th among FBS schools.

Patterson84 writes:

Don't overlook this Troy team!

vq4nfo writes:

in response to Patterson84:

Don't overlook this Troy team!

They only lost to Miss State by 6. UT lost by 10. Miss St has one of the best take away ratios in FBS. It will be closer than the point spread states.

LovinMyVols writes:

No reason to play Rajon this week. Let him heal another week. Mizzou is an SEC game...Vandy is an SEC game...Kentucky is an SEC game...Troy is a 4-4 talented team, but they really should not be to hard for even this team to overcome. Save Neal for conference games and let him heal to 100%

Patterson84 writes:

in response to LovinMyVols:

No reason to play Rajon this week. Let him heal another week. Mizzou is an SEC game...Vandy is an SEC game...Kentucky is an SEC game...Troy is a 4-4 talented team, but they really should not be to hard for even this team to overcome. Save Neal for conference games and let him heal to 100%

With the way our defense has been playing we have to play Neal, we need all the help we can get to keep our defense off the field for more than a 3 and out!

BigOrangeFever76 (Inactive) writes:

I keep hearing about their one player...."Helen of Troy". Of course, a football player named Helen does not instill a lot of fear in opposing teams.

Go Vols...Beat Helen and Troy.

VolGrad writes:

From what people said about MSU versus Troy, Tennessee would have easily beaten MSU if they had played like that against us. Troy's big mistake was 4 huge turn overs in the first half against them, and MSU converted those into 20 points. But MSU only scored 7 points in the 2nd half of that game. So they obviously didn't play so well overall.

At least against Alabama, they had a good excuse for not playing well..., Alabama's defense. No one has played very well against Bama yet.

Still, we have to eliminate big plays on defense against this Troy team. They will come in with the "nothing to lose" mentality and play us tough.

OrangePride writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Seems a good prospect based on some recent reports. BUT....to date he was not highly recruited by big name schools and there is not much interest from the rating services either. So, I can't honestly fault the UT staff for failing to run up to Kingsport with paperwork. Did Vandy uncover a diamond in the rough? Hard to say, but I guess time will tell.

signalcorps writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Yea, finally back to winning. The second season will be 4-0

back to dreaming you mean (induce comma)hahahahahahahahaha

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to VolGrad:

I think Troy will score more than 3 pts. They lost to MSU by only 6 points, scoring 24. Their passing offense is ranked 21st while our passing defense is currently 102nd. Granted our schedule has been quite a bit tougher than theirs. Still, they will probably score at least 10 on us. They could score considerably more if we continue to give up big plays on defense. But running the ball effectively will definitely factor into that for this game as well.

I don't think we'll need to risk further injury to Raijon, and our other backs need the game time reps. We might see Raijon on a limited number of reps in this game. Troy's rush defense is at 68th among FBS schools.

beat this passed week by winless Fl international.. This will be the mother of all VOL whippings

exlineman writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

beat this passed week by winless Fl international.. This will be the mother of all VOL whippings

What time is that press realease on Dooley today per your past comments? Seems like you don't know what you thought you knew. Book it.

VolGrad writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

beat this passed week by winless Fl international.. This will be the mother of all VOL whippings

Actually they beat one win FIU the previous week and lost to one win FAU last weekend. So, yeah, they haven't been playing too well lately.

Vol_in_Mich writes:

According to some on here the Vols will beat Troy by 35 points. Why risk Neal, because Troy may not be the pushover some fans think. The Dooley coached Vols are not that much better than any team left this season. Could be the Second "LOSING" Season in one year!
For all you Gruden fans, what about Bob Stoops? Cost about the same & word is he would like to come back to the SEC. Would he come to UT & could they pay him what he would take? Who knows, just a thought.
GBO Wait Till Next Year (not 2nd season)

DavidB writes:

The same people saying to keep Neal out will be the same ones complaining if he sits out and we struggle.

Start him and see how he does. IF we can get ahead by 21 then let him rest.

Put the best players on the field to ensure a victory.

jobrando#216494 writes:

in response to exlineman:

What time is that press realease on Dooley today per your past comments? Seems like you don't know what you thought you knew. Book it.

Just a small delay. Working out the MOA with Gruden. Book That

RaineyVol writes:

in response to jobrando#216494:

Surely he want be needed for TROY.
VOLS 62 Troy 3 (it should be the score)

Vols 51 Troy 48

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to BigOrangeFever76:

I keep hearing about their one player...."Helen of Troy". Of course, a football player named Helen does not instill a lot of fear in opposing teams.

Go Vols...Beat Helen and Troy.

B O F 76,

That was funny your comments about Helen.

Reminds me of what Lou Holtz said about his players when he was the coach at William & Mary years ago.

He said "the trouble with us was we had too many Marys and not enough Williams"

mocsandvolsfan writes:

GO VOLS BEAT Troy. By 1 or by a hundred. No difference to me.

Plus I think Dooley will need Neal the rest of the season as well as next year. Play him when we needs some good yardage?? I don't know but I think we could have used him last week...like someone said just to keep SC's offense off the field. Nothing wrong with that.

UT 2 Troy O!! Go Neal! But please don't get hurt more.

UTVolWarrior98 writes:

We shouldnt even have to worry about our starting RB playing in this kind of game...its TROY....TROY!!! We should be able to beat this team with no RB in the game and with one of Tyler Brays arms tied behind his back!

Source: Casey "Was better than Manning" Clausen!!

HONOR THY VOLS..CHERISH THEM...

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