KNOXVILLE -- As other parts continuously move and change around him, Brent Brewer remains steady in the Tennessee secondary.
"I feel pretty comfortable," the sophomore safety said after practice Friday afternoon. "It doesn't change a lot for me. I'm always pretty much in the box playing against the receivers -- playing against the run and things like that. That's basically what I do."
Brewer, the former minor league baseball player who joined the Volunteers last summer and started the final six games last season, is built like a brick wall, which makes him an ideal strong safety suited to play against the run.
Even when free safety Janzen Jackson moves closer to the line to play nickelback as he's done during the first two weeks of preseason camp, Brewer's role remains unchanged. But he said his consistency needs to improve.
Coach Derek Dooley agreed.
"He's pretty steadied in at safety, but he needs to play better too," Dooley said. "He's only steady there because he's the best one at the position. He's got a lot of improvement to make. He's obviously a physical guy. He needs to trigger and play more physical, but he's also got to be able to hold up in space. He's got a lot of work to do, but he's been a pretty steady hand at safety."
Dooley said Friday was the first day of camp in which he felt the Vols didn't come out with the right mindset of working toward improvement, which he attributed to its place between a two-practice Thursday and this evening's scrimmage.
"Guys were hurting a little -- they were tired -- but that doesn't matter," he said. "You've got to come ready to go. Mature, professional players and mature, professional football teams come out every day. We had a lot of guys that were good, but overall it's just not the mindset we need. That's the mark of a young team."
Dooley said today's 5 p.m. scrimmage at Neyland Stadium is important as a full evaluation for the coaches to make personnel decisions.
"The biggest thing is to see how much improvement we've made from scrimmage one to scrimmage two," Dooley said. "Now that we've had two scrimmages, you really tighten in on who you're going to count on personnel-wise. Then scrimmage three is a lot more situation, end-of-the-game stuff. The last one is really a mock game.
"This is a big one. It's the longest one, it's in the middle of camp, it's when they're hurting the most, and we need a good performance out of everyone."
Bray's vocal skills
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray's vocal leadership improved during summer workouts according to players and coaches, but he struggled with managing the offense in Tuesday's scrimmage. Dooley said he has greater concerns than vocal leadership.
"I'm more concerned about his vocal call-the-play and run-the-play skills," he said. "His leadership is going to be based on his ability to perform and run the offense. It would suit me if he doesn't say one word to anybody and he does everything right from the time we give him the play until the whistle blows. You can't be a leader if you don't the care of your business."
The Vols are looking for more help at receiver behind Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers, and while freshman Vincent Dallas and DeAnthony Arnett have drawn most of the attention, Dooley said junior Zach Rogers has had a great camp.
"He's just one of those quiet [guys who] goes to work every day," Dooley said of Zach Rogers, who made 14 catches last year while battling through ankle and shoulder injuries in addition to a concussion. "Vincent Dallas and DeAnthony Arnett are showing some good things. They've still got a lot of development to do to understand playing receiver, but they've shown a lot of reasons why we signed them."
This and that
Dooley said freshmen tailbacks Marlin Lane and Tom Smith have done a good job at punt returner and admitted the Vols were counting on freshman Devrin Young [broken collarbone] at that spot. ... Receiver Matt Milton is day-to-day with an abdominal injury. ... Freshman offensive tackle Antonio Richardson is a week away from full health. ... Interim athletic director Joan Cronan made an appearance at Friday's practice and spoke with Dooley on the field after it ended.
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 ...