Vols lose two defensive ends to injury
By Grant Ramey | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
KNOXVILLE — It was a rough 24 hours for Tennessee defensive ends.
Senior Jacques Smith, who’s played 37 career games and started 14, fractured his thumb Tuesday night. Butch Jones said after Wednesday night’s practice. True freshman defensive end Corey Vereen also missed practice Wednesday while undergoing an MRI on his knee.
Smith underwent surgery Wednesday — which Jones called “very successful” — and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Jones said the team is still awaiting results from Vereen’s MRI.
“That occurred on the last part of practice,” Jones said of Smith’s Tuesday night injury. “That’s football. It gives another person an opportunity to develop.
Smith has accounted for 92 tackles, 14 1/2 tackles for loss and 4 1/2 sacks over his first three seasons as a Vol.
“(I) already saw (Jacques),” Jones said. “He’s in great spirits and looking forward to getting back.”
Vereen, expected to be a contributor at defensive end, turned heads with a strong spring camp as an early enrollee from the class of 2012. He registered four sacks in April’s Orange & White Game.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Peterman, who’s locked in a position battle with junior Justin Worley and true freshmen Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson, didn’t throw during the open portion of practice.
Jones said it was nothing more than a routine day off, though.
“That’s a precautionary measure we take with our quarterbacks,” Jones said. “With four quarterbacks in camp, they’ve had an abundance of throwing and so we pick our spots to rest their arms.”
Peterman, seemingly the second-team quarterback behind Worley so far in camp, was dressed and made handoffs during running drills, but didn’t participate in throwing sessions.
“Nate went through all the drills but didn’t do any throwing,” Jones said. “And then we’ll do the same the next day with Justin. And then that lends itself to getting the two freshmen valuable repetitions as well.”
Brian Randolph was ‘Tennessee tough’ enough Wednesday night.
The Vols’ junior safety was matched up with wide receiver Jacob Carter one-on-one during what’s becoming first-year head coach Butch Jones’ favorite drill, one that matches two players from opposing position groups on opposite sides of the ball against each other with the only requirement being dominating your opponent.
Randolph fought past Carter on the drill’s final rep, giving the defensive backs a 12-11 win after erasing a sizable advantage the wide receivers had taken early on.
“That’s why you don’t pay attention to the scoreboard, defensive backs!” Jones, microphone still in hand after narrating the play-by-play and awarding points over the practice field speakers, shouted. “The scoreboard will take care of itself!”
Freshman receiver Paul Harris (ankle), safety Byron Moore (hamstring), freshman receiver Josh Smith (knee) and linebacker Justin King didn’t practice, instead working on the side with trainers ... Harris had a walking boot on his right ankle while Smith, for the second consecutive day, had a sleeve on his right knee ... Safety LaDarrell McNeil and linebackers Curt Maggitt and Christian Harris practiced in green ‘limited’ jerseys ... Senior corner Naz Oliver is no longer with the team. He wasn’t at practice Wednesday and is no longer listed on Tennessee’s official roster.