KNOXVILLE -- Defensive end seems to be one of the few places the Tennessee football team could reasonably withstand an injury.
But having juniors Gerald Williams (foot injury) and Ben Martin (illness) at less than 100 percent for Saturday's season opener against Western Kentucky isn't the most desirable situation for first-year UT defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
"We're not like 100 percent up front," Kiffin said. "But we've got some options there. We've got some good players."
Williams has been one of the team's most pleasant preseason camp surprises, having wrestled away Martin's starting position two weeks ago.
Head coach Lane Kiffin said he expects Williams and Martin to play, but Monte Kiffin said the staff also had confidence that young reserves Willie Bohannon and Steven Fowlkes could capably share time with junior Chris Walker.
UT officials identified the team's four Saturday captains as senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton, senior tailback Montario Hardesty, junior All-America safety Eric Berry and junior middle linebacker Nick Reveiz.
Shaw to start
Lane Kiffin said junior Jarrod Shaw would start Saturday over redshirt freshman Aaron Douglas at right offensive tackle, but he expects both to play.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said he wasn't aware the head coach had announced the decision but added that he was "happy for Jarrod ... and excited to see Aaron get in there, too."
"It was really close," Chaney said of the competition.
The head coach didn't specify who would start in the secondary aside from Berry and cornerback Art Evans, but he said as many as five cornerbacks could get significant playing time.
Senior Marsalous Johnson further clouded the situation with a "great week" of practice, according to both Kiffins.
"He was pretty good when we got here, but then he got hurt a little bit in camp," Monte Kiffin said of the 5-foot-8 Johnson, who started seven games in 2007 before tearing a knee ligament. "But he's had a great week. We have some different options there at corner. Brent (Vinson) has been hurt, but he's practicing a little bit better now. He's back close to 100 percent. We have some options there."