KNOXVILLE — With fall semester classes starting Wednesday and game week just around the corner, Tennessee hoped to finish preseason training camp with a solid practice on Monday evening.
The Volunteers are off from practice the next two days and only practice once (Thursday) between now and next week, which leads into the opener against Austin Peay at Neyland Stadium.
Tennessee's assistant coaches will meet with the media following practice, but here's a recap of the open viewing portion of tonight's session.
• Best play, offense: During the Vols' red-zone period, freshman receiver Marquez North took a handoff running left on a jet sweep, navigated two good blocks from a pair of wideouts and darted into the end zone from 8 yards out.
• Best play, defense: With the second-team offense attempting to convert a two-point play from the 8, freshman walk-on nickelback Devaun Swafford broke up a pass from quarterback Nathan Peterman, and safety Byron Moore was right there to snatch the ball for the interception.
Peterman was trying to squeeze the ball between the two defenders to receiver Cody Blanc.
On the first-team offense's turn at the two-pointer, Justin Worley couldn't find an open receiver, and defensive tackles Daniel McCullers and Daniel Hood closed on the quarterback as he tried to scramble up the middle.
• Draw it up: In eight plays from the 12-, 10-, 8- and 6-yard lines, Tennessee's offense scored four times, and two were on simple middle draw plays. Rajion Neal, untouched before he reached the goal line, darted in from 10 yards out. Tom Smith bounced his run outside to the left to score from the same distance with the second-team offense.
Smith, who appears to have passed Alden Hill as Tennessee's third tailback behind Neal and Marlin Lane, also scored on a zone-read option play. He took the handoff from freshman quarterback Josh Dobbs, who took two second-team reps after Peterman's two, and sprinted up the heart of the defense for the score. Tennessee coached Butch Jones barked to freshman defensive end Jaylen Miller, "That was your touchdown!"
• Best development: Coaches said they planned to increase linebacker Curt Maggitt's workload in the last week, and the valuable junior was on the field for both team periods in the open portion of practice. Still in a green jersey as he recovers from his ACL injury, Maggitt fought his way through a crowded pile of players to recover a fumble by redshirt freshman receiver Drae Bowles.
• Best of Butch: The coach relentlessly called out the name of freshman defensive tackle Jason Carr throughout practice. He made the 6-foot-5, 285-pounder from Memphis White Station High School go consecutive turns in the Vols' circle drill, when the team circle around two players trying to drive their opponent out of the ring.
At one point Jones called Carr "the softest guy out of Memphis" before berating the Vols' senior defensive linemen for not doing a better job of making sure their teammate was ready for practice.
• Notable development: Junior defensive end Jordan Williams worked with the first-team defense ahead of fifth-year senior Marlon Walls.
• New face: Jones continues to be unimpressed with backup punter Matt Darr, which may explain why there was a new specialist with the Vols on Monday night. Trevor Daniel, from Dickson County High School west of Nashville, is a new addition to Tennessee's group of kickers. He's listed as No. 25 on Tennessee's updated roster.
• Injury report: Not much new here. Brian Randolph and Pig Howard continued to practice in green non-contact jerseys for precautionary reasons, as did linebacker Justin King (hamstring). Lane continued to work out on the side.
Receivers Paul Harris (foot), Johnathon Johnson (hamstring) and Ryan Jenkins also didn't practice. Freshman offensive lineman Dylan Wiesman (knee) and cornerback Michael Williams (shoulder) also again didn't practice.
Tight end Alex Ellis watched parts of practice on crutches with a boot on his right foot.
• Other tidbits: The Vols again infused a handful of special teams work into the early part of practice, and the receivers and defensive backs went head-to-head in a blocking/block-shedding drill during one period.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...
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