KNOXVILLE -- Before Tennessee's offensive line can navigate another one of the SEC's stingiest defenses, the Volunteers will have to manage injuries to a couple of starters.
Left guard Marcus Jackson (leg) was limited during Tuesday's practice, and right tackle Coleman Thomas (ankle) spent all of it rehabilitating after the two players were unable to finish last week's loss to Ole Miss.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones updated the status of both players after practice.
"Marcus was out there and did what he needed to do, and the rest was getting the rehabilitation that he needs," he said. "Coleman rehabbed the entire practice, so I think Marcus is a little bit ahead of Coleman in terms of availability. We fully anticipate Marcus going through full practice tomorrow. Coleman, we'll have to wait and see how it goes."
The Vols have allowed 30 sacks and rank 119th nationally in rushing offense and could have a pair of new starters against the Crimson Tide, who are allowing just 13 points per game and coming off a shutout of Texas A&M.
With Thomas and Jackson out of the game, Tennessee was forced to use different lineups on just about every series of the second half against Ole Miss.
Jacob Gilliam, who's playing through a torn ACL suffered in the season opener seven weeks ago, and redshirt freshman Brett Kendrick came off the bench at tackle as starting left tackle Kyler Kerbyson played both left and right tackle.
"I feel a little rusty, but my knee felt fine," Gilliam said of his return, which included him getting beat for a couple of sacks.
Dylan Wiesman and former Bradley Central High School standout Austin Sanders are the options at guard.
"It's a little tough for them, mainly because they haven't gotten the same amount of reps," center Mack Crowder said. "Obviously the game's a little faster than practice, so the few reps that they do get in the game, they really have to adjust to the tempo pretty fast.
"Everybody that gets a chance ... they're definitely pumped up to go out there and prove what they can do."
Starting quarterback Justin Worley was not made available for interviews after Tuesday's practice, which is unusual.
The senior, who left last week's loss at Ole Miss in the fourth quarter after taking a hit and landing awkwardly on his shoulder, was moving around fine during the brief open period of Tuesday's practice, which did not include any throwing.
"Making progress," Jones said. "We'll see how it goes. Just like everyone, he was out there for practice, but we'll see."
The Vols are giving backup Nathan Peterman and third-string sophomore Josh Dobbs, whom the Vols would like to redshirt this season, more first-team repetitions in practice this week with Worley feeling the effects of all the sacks and hits he's taken this season.
Hurd not hurting
After two weeks, freshman tailback Jalen Hurd finally shed the green noncontact jersey for practice.
"It's not really much of a difference," he said. "It's something they (use) just to put a label on. I am 100 percent. I felt 100 percent going into last week."
After getting just two carries against UT-Chattanooga, Hurd ran it 13 times and caught a couple of screen passes in totaling 59 yards of offense against Ole Miss.
Jones praised the willingness of his young tailback to play through pain.
"You're getting hit on every single snap, whether it's in pass protection or running the football, so it takes a little bit different mindset to play that position, and Jalen has it," he said.
Tennessee announced Tuesday that the Alabama game officially had sold out of tickets. It's the third sellout of the season at the 102,455-seat Neyland Stadium for the Vols, who also sold out the opener against Utah State and Florida's visit three weeks ago. The Arkansas State (99,538) and UTC (93,097) games were not sellouts.
Tennessee's fan base also traveled well to both Oklahoma and Ole Miss, using the Vols' entire allotments for both games.
Alabama's current seven-game series win streak, which dates back to the 2006 meeting, includes three wins in Knoxville.
"I've spoken about we have to get back to making it relevant," Jones said. "Fifty percent of your team is new, but they understand the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry. ... This rivalry means so many things to so many people: our former players, our students, everyone that's attended these institutions.
"There's a pride involved with it. I believe it's one of the best rivalries in all of college football. It didn't take me very long to figure that out, so in terms of the importance to us, it'll always be there."
Contact Patrick Brown at email@example.com.