Defensive end Jacques Smith fractures thumb, out 4-6 weeks

In this Aug. 3, 2013 photo University of Tennessee lineman Jacques Smith, left, and linebacker Dontavis Sapp take part in a drill in Knoxville, Tenn. Sapp struggled to earn playing time and briefly considered quitting or transferring last season. Now he's atop the depth chart after impressing new coach Butch Jones. (AP Photo/Amy Smotherman Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel)

In this Aug. 3, 2013 photo University of Tennessee lineman Jacques Smith, left, and linebacker Dontavis Sapp take part in a drill in Knoxville, Tenn. Sapp struggled to earn playing time and briefly considered quitting or transferring last season. Now he's atop the depth chart after impressing new coach Butch Jones. (AP Photo/Amy Smotherman Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel)

In this Aug. 3, 2013 photo University of Tennessee lineman Jacques Smith, left, and linebacker Dontavis Sapp take part in a drill in Knoxville, Tenn. Sapp struggled to earn playing time and briefly considered quitting or transferring last season. Now he's atop the depth chart after impressing new coach Butch Jones. (AP Photo/Amy Smotherman Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel)

In this Aug. 3, 2013 photo University of Tennessee lineman Jacques Smith, left, and linebacker Dontavis Sapp take part in a drill in Knoxville, Tenn. Sapp struggled to earn playing time and briefly considered quitting or transferring last season. Now he's atop the depth chart after impressing new coach Butch Jones. (AP Photo/Amy Smotherman Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel)

Tennessee coach Butch Jones says Saturday’s first spring scrimmage and two-a-day practice will be “game day for a lot of individuals.”

Senior defensive end Jacques Smith won’t be one of them.

Following Wednesday night’s preseason practice, Jones announced Smith fractured his right thumb in the prior night’s practice. The Vols' projected starter at defensive end will miss four-to-six weeks, but has not been ruled out for UT’s Aug. 31 season opener against Austin Peay.

“We’ll see how he progresses,” Jones said. “We may have him back for the Austin Peay game. That’s what we’re looking towards. He may be good to go. We’ll probably know further details here in a week or so.”

Smith recorded 33 tackles playing 12 games at linebacker last season. He transitioned back to the defensive line in the Vols’ return to a 4-3 defense under Jones.

Smith’s break wasn’t the only bad news. Corey Vereen, a freshman behind Smith as UT’s “Leo-end” (a defensive end/linebacker hybrid), underwent an MRI on a sore knee Wednesday night and did not practice.

While Jones reported Smith underwent “very successful” surgery on Wednesday, he said the extent of Vereen’s injury is unknown.

MRI results are due Thursday.

The potential loss of Smith and Vereen could pose problems on the left side of Tennessee’s defensive line. Jones mentioned starting end Marlon Walls and backups Corey Miller and Jaylen Miller as potential stopgaps.

Junior Jordan Williams is listed behind Smith on the Vols’ preseason depth chart.

“More players get an opportunity,” Jones said. “We have some veterans at that position that have played a lot of football here.”

Miller said he’s accustomed to playing a traditional defensive end spot, but has been cross-training at “Leo-end” from “Day 1” and feels good.

“It’s adversity,” Miller said. “It happens every day. Guys go down. Others step up.”

These individuals will be back,” Jones said. “We fully anticipate them being back.”

Oliver Not On Roster: Senior defensive back Naz Oliver is no longer listed on Tennessee’s official roster and may complete his final year of eligibility at a school closer to his New Jersey home, Jones said.

Jones said that Oliver was on pace to graduate and will leave UT with a degree.

Oliver had an injury-marred career at UT, playing only one game since arriving as a freshman in 2009.

Lane Makes Appearance: Junior running back Marlin Lane, who was suspended for undisclosed disciplinary reasons during the spring but was reinstated this summer, spoke to reporters Wednesday for the first time since his return.

Lane’s appearance, coming at 10 p.m. and shortly after coach Jones released major injury news, came as a surprise. He was not on the list of players scheduled to be available.

Lane didn’t specifically address the reason for his suspension, but said he spoke with Jones regularly while he was away from the team.

Lane is battling senior Rajion Neal and redshirt freshman Alden Hill for reps at running back. He had 658 yards on 120 carries in 2012.

Day Off?: Wednesday concluded six straight days of practice for the Vols. The team is slated for a day off on Thursday, but Jones said plainly, “There are no days off.”

Team meetings, walk-throughs and academic work are slated for Thursday.

The Vols will return to Haslam Field on Friday, the same day summer session classes come to an end. That will set up a big day on Saturday. The Vols will partake in a scrimmage and first two-a-day practice of the preseason.

Injury Report: In addition to Smith and Vereen, other nicked-up Vols include freshmen receivers Paul Harris and Josh Smith, sophomore linebacker Justin King and senior linebacker Brent Brewer. None practiced Wednesday.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee football and men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 35

Orange_Beach writes:

A fractured thumb won't hold this animal out of a single game.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

A fractured thumb won't hold this animal out of a single game.

You see players (mainly O or D linemen and linebackers) play with busted fingers, thumbs, wrists all the time. I expect you're right.

I remember back in 2006, we had serious injuries to Inky Johnson (never played again, unfortunately) and Justin Harrell in the Air Force game. Harrell ruptured a tendon in his bicep which made it basically impossible for him to bend his arm at the elbow under his own power. He still played the next game against Florida before having surgery and ending his season after that game.

ThaiVolFan writes:

the heart of Justin Harrell the week of the Florida game was inspiring. The love for the game,the University and his brotherhood was awesome to see. One of the many special stories in Tennessee's long history
GBO!

BruisedOrange writes:

I'm afraid fan optimism and player tenacity are no substitute for a thumb--at least at the DE position.

First of all, the entire hand would have to be immobilized before he could play, so visualize a left defensive end playing with a padded club at the end of his right arm. Since all blows to the head of offensive linemen are now illegal (R.I.P. Deacon Jones), that clubbed arm has no upside.

Now set aside the obvious difficulty of tackling with only one set of fingers. Also set aside the futility of an outside pass rusher with no ability to grab or grasp with his inside hand as he runs harmlessly past the QB. (In today's game, knocking the QB in the head as you pass by m i g h t draw a 15-yard frown from the backfield judge.)

Can anyone think of even one technique for controlling or redirecting a blocker that doesn't require a firm grasp of the jersey by either hand?

Practically speaking, a DE with only one hand is an offensive tackle's dream and a predictable asset for the offensive coordinator. Opposing teams could game-plan their whole offense around that one deficiency.

Heal quickly--but thoroughly. We need a healthy Jacques Smith beyond Austin Peay, certainly for more games than you can count on one hand.

SummittsCourt writes:

I would rather hime heal correctly than rush to get back for the Austin Peay game. At least it's not something more series.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I hope he heals but we won't need him for Austin Peay.

Get back soon Jaques. Also For Vereen! Go Vols

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Dang!! I hope he's back before the Oregon game??

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

what's the big deal about a broken thumb when you're a defense end.. you're not handing the ball, can't this injury be cast and him still play?

GatorHater1998 writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

You see players (mainly O or D linemen and linebackers) play with busted fingers, thumbs, wrists all the time. I expect you're right.

I remember back in 2006, we had serious injuries to Inky Johnson (never played again, unfortunately) and Justin Harrell in the Air Force game. Harrell ruptured a tendon in his bicep which made it basically impossible for him to bend his arm at the elbow under his own power. He still played the next game against Florida before having surgery and ending his season after that game.

ha, the Air Force game was my first UT game

BruisedOrange writes:

in response to SAMA_BUCKS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Appreciate the correction, Sama. Always nice to learn something from the Comments section. Too much trash talking here lately.

I'd like to see GoVols try something like "Trash-free Tuesdays" where any empty jabbering gets deleted immediately. (I know: takes too much time to monitor and everyone's already overworked and underpaid.)

But we have a lot of informed, experienced Vols out there it would be good to hear more from.

Shake_Bake writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Dang!! I hope he's back before the Oregon game??

LOL!!! Yeah...me too! It will be interesting to see how the team responds to a very tough road game. It will be a good learning experience for them one way or the other. Wouldn't it be great to see them play hard, and keep this game close!

volman444 writes:

whatever...the dude hasn't made an important tackle since he has been there. highly recruited and just never got anything done on the field. nice orange blazer though.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to volman444:

whatever...the dude hasn't made an important tackle since he has been there. highly recruited and just never got anything done on the field. nice orange blazer though.

I understand the comment. Last year was horrible for the whole defense. Let's hope the new scheme is better/easier to implement. FLY TO THE BALL!!!

Go Defense!

62vol writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I understand the comment. Last year was horrible for the whole defense. Let's hope the new scheme is better/easier to implement. FLY TO THE BALL!!!

Go Defense!

Smith has the size, strength, experience and speed to play at a higher level than he has achieved. Best wishes for him to recover and have that break out year that we have expected before now.

govols26 writes:

in response to volman444:

whatever...the dude hasn't made an important tackle since he has been there. highly recruited and just never got anything done on the field. nice orange blazer though.

I think a lot of that can be attributed to the scheme last year. His body type seems much better suited as a DE than the pure LB that he played as last year. I would be very surprised if his productivity wasn't way up this year (assuming he can stay healthy).

OrangePride writes:

These things can momentarily throw things off stride, but adjustments will be made and we will be fine. I expect JS back by Oregon and perhaps some limited duty with WKU. But this injury just underscores Coach Jones' concerns about depth at a few of our positions. One guy is NEVER enough.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Shake_Bake:

LOL!!! Yeah...me too! It will be interesting to see how the team responds to a very tough road game. It will be a good learning experience for them one way or the other. Wouldn't it be great to see them play hard, and keep this game close!

Yep, it means forcing their offense into 3rd & long situations or obvious passing downs that require seam patterns and timing routes. If UT can at least slow them down it could be very interesting.

Chappy writes:

Dang! Hate to hear this.

Hopefully his youth, health, and great UT trainers will allow him to heal quickly.

laraccoon writes:

From what i have read about Jacques religion and faith are a big part of his life . with all the hardship he has had to deal with (mainly coaching ) should only make him more determined . i expect these coaches to put him in a position to succeed not only this year but on Sundays too , something that will greatly help future recruiting .

antonio14313 writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

I'm afraid fan optimism and player tenacity are no substitute for a thumb--at least at the DE position.

First of all, the entire hand would have to be immobilized before he could play, so visualize a left defensive end playing with a padded club at the end of his right arm. Since all blows to the head of offensive linemen are now illegal (R.I.P. Deacon Jones), that clubbed arm has no upside.

Now set aside the obvious difficulty of tackling with only one set of fingers. Also set aside the futility of an outside pass rusher with no ability to grab or grasp with his inside hand as he runs harmlessly past the QB. (In today's game, knocking the QB in the head as you pass by m i g h t draw a 15-yard frown from the backfield judge.)

Can anyone think of even one technique for controlling or redirecting a blocker that doesn't require a firm grasp of the jersey by either hand?

Practically speaking, a DE with only one hand is an offensive tackle's dream and a predictable asset for the offensive coordinator. Opposing teams could game-plan their whole offense around that one deficiency.

Heal quickly--but thoroughly. We need a healthy Jacques Smith beyond Austin Peay, certainly for more games than you can count on one hand.

...now the question is: is he better with one hand than anyone else on the team is with two hands? some players can be. but he's probably not. so i'd sit him, but if he wants to play, that gives rest to the 2 handed player that subs in for him.

go vols.

t

antonio14313 writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

Appreciate the correction, Sama. Always nice to learn something from the Comments section. Too much trash talking here lately.

I'd like to see GoVols try something like "Trash-free Tuesdays" where any empty jabbering gets deleted immediately. (I know: takes too much time to monitor and everyone's already overworked and underpaid.)

But we have a lot of informed, experienced Vols out there it would be good to hear more from.

...and those vols stay away just because of all the trash talking that happens on here that gets WAY off topic most times! i've been guilty of staying away sometimes too. just have to ignore, and sift thru to fine the good stuff...

go vols!

t

DeltaCharlie3 writes:

in response to ThaiVolFan:

the heart of Justin Harrell the week of the Florida game was inspiring. The love for the game,the University and his brotherhood was awesome to see. One of the many special stories in Tennessee's long history
GBO!

Who? What did he do? UT got blown out v. Florida.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to volman444:

whatever...the dude hasn't made an important tackle since he has been there. highly recruited and just never got anything done on the field. nice orange blazer though.

I know what you mean; it certainly seemed last year that he hardly ever shed a block and made a play. Maybe that wasn't his responsibility in that defense. Smith was a legit five-star recruit. If nothing else, he could be the proof that blue-chip status as a recruit doesn't automatically translate to an all-star-level in collge. I'm not knocking Smith, I'm saying that there is a lot more that goes into a player's ultimate value than what outsiders thought of him as a recruit.

suttree writes:

in response to volman444:

whatever...the dude hasn't made an important tackle since he has been there. highly recruited and just never got anything done on the field. nice orange blazer though.

I doubt Smith would have come to UT if he knew Dooley/Sunseri would be switching to 3-4. His junior season got completely derailed.

I say put one of those big cave man casts on his hand and let him knock some folks around.

MetroplexMojo writes:

in response to SAMA_BUCKS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think you are onto something when identifying the trolls

T-bag (Bama)
D-bag (Florida)
Flea-bag (thUGA)
Windbag (Vandy)

BruisedOrange writes:

in response to SAMA_BUCKS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sama,sama,sama...

You should have stopped with the above comment and left on a high note. Everyone would have thought you were a knowledgeable gentleman.

Central_IL_Vol writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie3:

Who? What did he do? UT got blown out v. Florida.

What's up DumbChump3?

Are you barking like a dog these days? I hear things at UFAG are not going so well. You should be more concerned about the UFAG GatorS and Little Willie MissChimp than the Vols!

John_10065 writes:

You do what the old pros used to do. You put a huge freaking cast on it and let him use it as a club at the line of scrimmage!

volfaninutah writes:

put him in a titanium cast that allows him to slap another lineman up side the head, and tell him to "have at it!"

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to SAMA_BUCKS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Old Bag(Ole Miss)

ctwins writes:

Rocky Flop already taking a day off...my oh my.
Just another day of grind at the Capstone as ESPN and 60 Minutes are in town doing more tv specials.

SI has 5 Tide players on their 1st/2nd team All American selection. CT only school with 3 on first team. So what else is new?

Yankees Manager Girardi in as guest speaker following Herm Edwards and Ray Lewis. Winners speaking to winners.

Pompey writes:

....and so it begins....the Tennessee curse...!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Pompey:

....and so it begins....the Tennessee curse...!

Curse? you mean football? It's a curse every coach in America has to live with. When you're playing a contact sport what else can you expect? However "non-contact" sports like basketball and baseball have injuries as well.
I have a chance at injuries walking to the mailbox. Well getting up in the morning really.

Enki_Amenra writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

You see players (mainly O or D linemen and linebackers) play with busted fingers, thumbs, wrists all the time. I expect you're right.

I remember back in 2006, we had serious injuries to Inky Johnson (never played again, unfortunately) and Justin Harrell in the Air Force game. Harrell ruptured a tendon in his bicep which made it basically impossible for him to bend his arm at the elbow under his own power. He still played the next game against Florida before having surgery and ending his season after that game.

Good God, Almighty... Inky Johnson could knock the snot out of people - no matter their size.

I remember seeing him and thinking, 'Hmm, this guy is awful little (compared to other players in general), we must have depth issues'.

Then I saw his ferocity and sell-out. Pound for pound, I'm not sure I've seen anybody who could lay a hit like Inky - except maybe Eric Berry or Scott Galyon.

The injury was unfortunate at the time. What I didn't realize back then is that Inky is the type of person who has such passion, drive, and general intelligence, that he will be successful in whatever he chooses - physical limitations be damned.

Central_IL_Vol writes:

in response to ctwins:

Rocky Flop already taking a day off...my oh my.
Just another day of grind at the Capstone as ESPN and 60 Minutes are in town doing more tv specials.

SI has 5 Tide players on their 1st/2nd team All American selection. CT only school with 3 on first team. So what else is new?

Yankees Manager Girardi in as guest speaker following Herm Edwards and Ray Lewis. Winners speaking to winners.

Typical classless Crimson TURD Moron,

What's wrong scumbag, no Crimson TURD sites? No one in Bammer is intelligent enough to run a fan site. Are you married to your sister, have you poisoned a tree today, how about teabagged another man, have you humped your special barnyard animal?

Bammers are scum of the Earth and leave a foul stench everywhere they go! Every other year, the state of Tennessee has to be fumigated to remove the foul stench of the Crimson TURD Morons that come to Neyland Stadium. Even after the Turds leave town, the foul stench remains for days!

Girardi should be right at home in TURD town, Bammer fans and Yankee fans are the worst in sports!

Keep Tennessee beautiful; but a dirty rotten Bammer Turd on a Southbound bus!

Rammer Jammer, yeller hammer; GO TO HELL ALABAMMER!

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