published Friday, August 8th, 2014

Tennessee football practice report: Vols prep for Saturday scrimmage

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    Freshman safety Todd Kelly breaks on a runner during a drill at Tennessee's football practice on Friday afternoon.
    Photo by Patrick Brown

KNOXVILLE — With an important preseason scrimmage inside Neyland Stadium looming on Saturday night, Tennessee was back at work at Haslam Field for practice on Friday afternoon.

The Volunteers will have their first two-a-day set of practices on Saturday, culminating with August's first scrimmage tomorrow night.

Here are some notes and observations from the open viewing period of Friday's workout.

• Jason Croom and Johnathon Johnson got some first-team work during Tennessee's early-practice walk-through period. The Vols will rotate heavily at receiver, and wideouts coach Zach Azzanni likes to play a handful of guys. Croom and Johnson appear to be among that group, as does Marquez North, Josh Smith, Von Pearson, Josh Malone, Vic Wharton and Pig Howard.

• Early in practice, Tennessee broke into some half-field 7-on-7 work, which saw the quarterbacks throw to one of two receivers against three defensive backs.

Josh Dobbs was sharp on his short throws, including an on-target slant to redshirt freshman Ryan Jenkins and ball through a tight window to Johnson.

Nathan Peterman hit on a pair of deep passes. He hit Pearson in stride down the sideline after catching safety Devaun Swafford peeking into the flat. Peterman then hit walk-on Virginia transfer Adrian Gamble in stride between a couple of defenders on a post pattern.

Where was Justin Worley, you ask? He was handing off during a drill on the defensive field on what may have been a maintenance day for the senior.

• Speaking of that other drill, it featured the offensive and defensive lines facing off with a tailback running the ball and two linebackers thrown into the mix.

The first-team defensive front held its own, only allowing one easy Marlin Lane score.

The two sides traded blows throughout the drill, but there were a few standouts. Curt Maggitt and Dewayne Hendrix, a freshman, each made nice plays from their defensive end spots. Left tackle Dontavius Blair got the key block to open up a hole on a stretch play.

With time out in the period, Vols coach Butch Jones called for a winner-take-all rep. The defense won it with a stop, but freshman defensive tackle Dimarya Mixon lined up offsides to allow for another snap. On the redo, the offensive line opened a comfortable cutback lane to win the drill.

"Thanks, Mixon!" Jones barked. "Thank you for your lack of discipline!"

• Good sign for the Vols: defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry practiced after he was limited on Thursday. He missed most of last season with a knee injury and missed spring practice after shoulder surgery. At 6-foot-4, 296 pounds, Saulsberry is one of Tennessee's biggest bodies on defense.

• Jones rode defensive back/linebacker Elliott Berry throughout practice. He told the freshman he would remove the "B" from the back of his jersey after he adjudged Berry to loaf to a drill and proceeded to refer to him as "Elliot Erry" throughout practice. This after Jones singled out Berry for his performance following Thursday's practice.

• This appears to be the first-team punt coverage unit: linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin; defensive backs Swafford, Cam Sutton, Justin Coleman, LaDarrell McNeil and Michael Williams; punter Matt Darr; snapper Matt Giampapa; and the three-man shield of linebacker Justin King, defensive tackle Danny O'Brien and defensive end Kendal Vickers.

*Worth noting down the road: big Charles Mosley, who isn't going to play this year after breaking his leg in a July car accident, watched the offensive line go through some early practice drills. There's some question as to whether he'll play offensive or defensive line when he recovers, but perhaps here's a hint.

• Guard Dylan Wiesman continues to miss practice time, though redshirt freshman Austin Sanders, a former Bradley Central standout, was in a green non-contact jersey after missing practice on Tuesday and Thursday.

• Freshman tailback Derrell Scott was limited for the third time this week. Elsewhere among newcomers, safety Cortez McDowell appears to be limited in some capacity as well. Cornerback Rashaan Gaulden was working on the side of practice with a trainer, and his left ankle was heavily taped.

More coverage online and in Friday's Times Free Press.

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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