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August 4, 2013Tennessee players donned shoulder pads for the first time this pre-season camp Sunday afternoon on Haslam Field, and Butch Jones wasted little time in challenging his players.
Following early periods of warm-ups and stretching, the Vols circled up for the traditional bull ring or 'Tennessee Drill.' With teammates encircling them, several Vols squared off one-on-one in the battles. It was mostly even between offensive and defensive players, though freshman cornerback Cam Sutton was mobbed by teammates after winning a battle.
Showcasing this coaching staff's attention to detail, secondary coach Willie Martinez then pulled Sutton aside and continued with instruction on the heels of Sutton's ring victory.
Tennessee then shifted to lengthy special teams work, with Jones & Co. auditioning myriad players for the roles of kick and punt returners. MarQuez North looked to have a strong day on kickoff returns, fielding balls cleanly and showing upfield burst. Malik Foreman, Sutton, Josh Smith, Ryan Jenkins and Pig Howard were among the others fielding both kicks and punts.
Matt Darr had a number of punts with Jones peering over his shoulder. Darr continues to battle for consistency.
In defensive line drills, Steve Stripling worked burst and technique on the sleds with his unit. Stripling implored his players to "fly into the sled. You're not going to hurt it!"
Linebackers added a strip-and-recover fumble drill, while defensive backs received instruction from Martinez, defensive coordinator John Jancek and had Jones looking on later in drills.
The Vols less than an hour into practice shifted into some full-team, 11-on-11 work on the practice field. In addition to the rookies attempting to make an early impact on the defensive side of the ball at the cornerback positions, Tennessee's freshman wideouts North and Smith joined Howard to get some early work at the wide receiver spots when the Vols shifted into team setting.
Byron Moore, Christian Harris and Justin King all worked in 'The Hole' for the Vols as they were held out of contact work on Sunday.
The Vols return to the practice field Monday afternoon and conduct their first day in full pads Tuesday night.
VolQuest.com will tweet and post notes immediately following today's post-practice comments --- and will do so each day of camp. Additionally, we will have videos, a photo gallery, notes and multiple stories throughout the evening and into Monday before Tennessee's fourth session. Staff twitter handles are: @VolQuest_Rivals, @VolQuest_Paul, @VolQuest_Rob, @AustinPriceless, @John_BriceVQ and special contributor @GrantRamey.