- Evan Woodbery sums up the Vols' eleventh practice
- Mike Bajakian on implementing chaos in practice
- Zach Azzanni talks about injuries plaguing his wide receivers
- What John Jancek expects from the defense in Saturday's scrimmage
- Don Mahoney: Vols need to get more physical
- Highlights from the Vols' eleventh practice
Willie Martinez: Vols need to be more consistent
Steve Stripling: Vols 'gradually getting better'
Robert Gillespie on the Vols' running backs
Coaches offered no explanation Thursday for the absence of running back Marlin Lane, who missed time last week dealing with what coach Butch Jones called a family illness.
Jones does not typically speak to the media Thursdays, and assistants made the timetable for Lane’s return appear uncertain.
“That’s up to Coach Jones,” said offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian.
Running backs coach Robert Gillespie said he was focused on “coaching the players who are here.”
A native of Daytona Beach, Fla., Lane rushed for 658 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012.
Receivers Vincent Dallas (possible concussion symptoms), Paul Harris (hamstring) and Jacob Carter (ankle) sat out practice, joining safety Jalen Reeves-Maybin, tight end Justin Meredith, linebacker Curt Maggitt and defensive lineman Mo Couch, who have missed all spring.
The injured players were corralled, quite literally, behind a temporary fence placed at the corner of Haslam Field. Signage identified the area as “The Hole.”
Defensive coordinator John Jancek said the impending end of spring football — there are only three practices left before the April 20 spring game — has added urgency to practice.
One of the reasons might be expected: The Vols need to get a lot of things down on film.
“You’re building a video bank for them to study and for the freshmen that come in to study over the summer, so they can do things on their own when the coaches aren’t around,” Jancek said.
Defensive backs coach Willie Martinez was particularly tough on junior college transfer Riyahd Jones on Thursday. After a poor play by Jones, Martinez pointed to junior cornerback Justin Coleman and said, “You’re not going to steal reps from him!”
Jones often teases and pushes 360-pound defensive lineman Daniel McCullers from the microphone. On Thursday, as players were running to a new station, he yelled, “Somebody help McCullers! Put him on your back if you have to!”
Gillespie said there hasn’t been significant separation between Lane and Rajion Neal this spring. Beyond those two established players, he identified redshirt freshman Alden Hill as the third-string back.
Defensive line coach Steve Stripling continued to heap praise on freshman Corey Vereen, saying he’s never seen a young player with the “appetite and attitude” that he does.
“He should be going to the prom right now,” Stripling said.
Vereen was ejected from the scrimmage on Saturday for a late hit, but Stripling said Vereen immediately sought him out to apologize and promised it would never happen again.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.