Receiver Jones able to drill

Receiver Jones able to drill

August 5th, 2009 by Wes Rucker in Sports

KNOXVILLE -- First-year Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has spent parts of the past few weeks jokingly prodding leading receiver Gerald Jones to take the cast off his injured wrist in time for preseason camp.

"He tells me I need to take it off or he's going to switch to the wishbone," Jones said.

That's apparently not necessary. Not yet, anyway.

Jones surprised most people other than himself Tuesday by participating in most of the day's activities, aside from blocking drills.

Some inside the UT program have feared Jones' wrist would hamper him through at least the first few games this season, and that ultimately could happen. But the vocal junior said he'll practice until he's told to stop, and he hopes for a full-contact clearance by next week.

"No doubt, my mind was set," Jones said. "I was going to practice the first day of practice, no matter what. I rested and relaxed and rehabbed and healed, and I did what they told me to do, and my wrist hasn't given me any problems today."

Jones' presence gave the Vols seven scholarship wideouts Tuesday, though fellow potential starter Brandon Warren was clearly bothered by a sore knee.

"You respect guys like that," junior quarterback Nick Stephens said. "You respect that they know we're short at a position, and they come out and they fight with a cast on or a bum ankle or whatever it is. You respect that. And not only did they come out and practice, but they made some plays today with the injuries they had.

"We look forward to getting them back 100 percent healthy. We know what they can do when they're healthy, and we can't wait for them to get there."

Added senior quarterback Jonathan Crompton: "We may not have a lot of guys at that position, but the ones we have are good players, and tough players."

The Vols don't have many proven options at receiver, especially following senior Austin Rogers' season-ending torn ACL. Junior Denarius Moore (fractured foot), likely the team's best deep threat, might not return for full contact before the Sept. 5 season opener against Western Kentucky.

Jones said he won't allow a pity party, though.

"We don't have excuses at the wide receiver corps," he said. "Whatever is hampering us doesn't stop us from competing to the best of our abilities."

Brotherly love

Freshman wide receiver Zach Rogers, Austin's brother, wore his brother's No. 21 jersey Tuesday. Rogers was scheduled to wear No. 83 before opting to honor his brother.

Wes Brown woes

Senior defensive lineman Wes Brown's sore knees clearly continue to bother him. He struggled through several periods in obvious pain and didn't finish practice.

Promising redshirt freshman defensive end Willie Bohannon was helped off the field late in practice with an apparent knee injury. His status wasn't immediately known.

Rogan returns

Junior defensive back Dennis Rogan said academic concerns prevented him from taking full advantage of the offseason, but he claimed to be fine academically for the season and ready to catch up. The Knoxville native has worked with the safeties and cornerbacks and could start at either position, though he spent most of Tuesday at second-team safety.

"I definitely wish I could have gotten a lot more (work this summer)," Rogan said. "That definitely would have helped out a lot ... but I'm good to go now."

First-year head coach Lane Kiffin said the staff knows Rogan can play cornerback but needs to learn whether he can play alongside All-American Eric Berry at safety.

Rogan said the Vols' highly touted freshman defensive backs had a solid first day.

"I don't mean to point out one guy, but Janzen (Jackson), he's real aggressive, so that will help out a lot," Rogan said.