published Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Vols one day closer to opener

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KNOXVILLE - The University of Tennessee football team worked on third-down situations and red-zone play during Tuesday morning's practice, and coach Derek Dooley left the field again feeling good about the day's work with Saturday's opener against Montana closer and closer on the horizon.

"Most of the physical work starts getting back down and it becomes a bigger investment on the mental preparation," Dooley said.


Freshman tailback/return specialist Devrin Young practiced for the first time on Tuesday after breaking his collarbone the day before preseason camp began. He was in a red non-contact jersey.

"It was good to see him catch punts," Dooley said. "Now, he’s not going to be able to get hit for a while, so he’s still got a couple of weeks before he can get hit. But at least what it allows us to do is go practice one of the things that we signed him for, that’s go back and catch some punts."

Tailback/receiver Rajion Neal finally returned from his knee injury to practice fully on Tuesday. Where he fits into the Volunteers' game plan for Saturday remains unclear. The sophomore's workload at receiver had begun to increase when he was hurt, and his camp ended nearly two weeks early.

"Rajion, we’ll try to figure it out," Dooley said. "Rajion has missed a lot. We’ll try to integrate him into the game, shape some plays for him a little bit and see how he goes."

Dooley has emphasized the Grizzlies' tempo on offense all week, and given how Oregon gashed the Vols last season with a similar attack and UT's youth on defense, there's some concern on the coach's part.

"The tempo is the biggest concern because we struggled last year at times in the Oregon game," he said. "There were times we played great, but as the game goes, you've got to stay tuned in mentally. It's going to be a 'welcome to college football' for our young ones, no question."


UT quarterback Tyler Bray spoke to the media on Tuesday, so I'll have more from him and Dooley on his approach, progress and goals. Also, I'll take a look at how the Vols feel about their improved running game heading into the opener.

For more continuous updates, follow Vols beat writer Patrick Brown on Twitter.

about Patrick Brown...

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 ...

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