Vols expect Alvin Kamara's return 'in a couple of weeks'

Tennessee's Alvin Kamara gets a big Tennessee gain before being knocked out-of-bounds by Alabama's Ryan Anderson (22). The top-ranked University of Alabama Crimson Tide visited the University of Tennessee Volunteers in SEC football action on October 15, 2016

KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee will be without dynamic running back Alvin Kamara for Saturday night's game at South Carolina, but the Volunteers may not have to wait too much longer for his return.

Kamara suffered a left knee injury in the loss to Alabama two Saturdays ago, but he does not require surgery and Tennessee coach Butch Jones anticipates he'll return in a couple of weeks.

"He won't be available this week," Jones said Monday, "but everything that's come back right now, we do anticipate him being back in a couple of weeks. That's very, very encouraging. He's upbeat and positive.

"Now how does the body heal? As of right now he does not need surgery, and we're anticipating him being back here in the next week or two. That's very, very encouraging for us."

After facing the Gamecocks, Tennessee returns home to play Tennessee Tech, Kentucky and Missouri before ending the regular season at Vanderbilt.

Kamara is the third of Tennessee's four team captains to suffer an injury this season, but the Vols could get one of those valuable players back in November.

Jones indicated All-SEC cornerback Cameron Sutton, who hurt his ankle against Ohio in the third game of the season, is nearing a return.

photo Tennessee cornerback Cameron Sutton (23) is helped off the field after a injury while teammates Emmanuel Moseley (12) and Rashaan Gaulden (7) encourage him early in Saturday's nonconference win over Ohio.

"I"m here to tell you, everything I'm being told, he'll only be out for a couple more weeks," he said. We're anticipating him being back. When they see the work ethic of a Cameron Sutton, every day living in the training room -- he's willing himself back into being ready to play.

"As of right now all roads lead toward that. That's very encouraging."

Tennessee headed into its open date with a long list of injured players, but the Vols expect many of those players to return to face the Gamecocks.

Jones said linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., should play after missing the past five games after hurting his ankle against Virginia Tech.

"I'm very, very encouraged that Darrin Kirkland is going to play this game," he said. "He's worked very, very hard. He was questionable the previous week, but just wasn't quite ready to go. With that week off and then obviously the work week, we're anticipating him being ready to go."

Tennessee expects cornerback Malik Foreman and the four offensive linemen it lost between the Texas A&M game and the first quarter against Alabama to practice later Monday.

Coleman Thomas is listed as a co-starter at center with Dylan Wiesman and the starter at right tackle, where Chance Hall's status is the most up in the air of those injured linemen.

Jack Jones underwent thumb surgery a week ago, Jashon Robertson and Brett Kendrick are hoping to return from ankle injuries and Wiesman should return after suffering what appeared to be a concussion at Texas A&M.

"Everyone should be back, ready to go. We're going to gain a lot of these players back. Malik Foreman will be back in practice today. We'll see how much he can do as well.

"It's a testament to them and their work ethic and their internal drive to get back on the field for us."

Tennessee's homecoming game against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 5 will kick off at 4 p.m. and be televised on the SEC Network's alternate channel, the league announced on Monday.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.