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April 1, 2014

Quick HiTs: DBs win early battles on 'Fundamental Tuesday'

"Fundamental Tuesday" was the theme on Haslam Field as Tennessee conducted its ninth practice session of its 2014 spring camp.

Tennessee also welcomed back former coach and All-American Johnny Majors, who only recently was released from the hospital following heart surgery. The Vols also had a number of donors present on the practice field Tuesday as well.

The Vols, working for the first time since Saturday's scrimmage inside Neyland Stadium, were put through a gauntlet of various fundamental drills, from receivers and running backs working on staying low by having to dart under running chutes to defensive backs repeatedly drilled on stripping and recovering loose footballs.

Quarterbacks worked closely with wideouts and tight ends, with Butch Jones very involved in that segment of practice in the early going. Jones was coaching up tight ends and barking instructions.

Jones had earlier gotten his players' attention with some three-on-three work from the immediate outset. Jalen Hurd made a solid run during that segment while Jakob Johnson also notched a couple of stops.

After stretch, the Vols were ordered directly into some game-like goal-line situations. The defense had the upper hand early, with the highlight being Devaun Swafford jumping in front of the Nathan Peterman pass. Vol wideouts also had a couple of drops in those drills, and the defense was once flagged for holding.

In other offense-versus-defense battles, the Vols' defensive line was typically handled by its offensive counterparts. Jason Carr, back with a huge club on his left wrist, did have a couple of solid wins while Curt Maggitt showed some quick inside-burst on one play but also got stood up by Jacob Gilliam, who continued to work ahead of Dontavius Blair, on another play. Kendall Vickers put a nice move on Blair and Blair wasn't ready for the speed rush and lost his balance and came crashing down, as d-line coach Steve Stripling and offensive line coach Don Mahoney watched their units compete.

Blair had earlier in practice won a one-on-one battle against Corey Vereen, and with several former Vols looking on as they prepare for Wednesday's pro day on campus, Jones chided Antonio 'Tiny' Richardson by announcing, "That's the first-ever pancake block by a number 74!"

Hurd continued to wear the protective brace on his left elbow, which extends from the middle of his forearm up past the elbow to his biceps. Marquez North was back at practice in a green jersey while Justin Coleman also worked in green --- the only two Vols in the non-contact shirts after Johnathon Johnson finally returned full-go.

Devrin Young, Josh Malone, Von Pearson and Malik Foreman continued to get extensive work in the return game as the Vols conducted more drills at the speciality spot that's got markedly better competition this spring than at any point last year.

VolQuest.com will provide daily Quick HiTs from each of the Vols' spring practices. Additionally, we'll have in-depth videos, stories and analysis as well as updates on the message board and via staff twitter handles, which are as follows: @Brent_Hubbs; @VolQuest_Paul; @John_BriceVQ; @GrantRamey; VolQuest_Rob; and @VolQuest_Rivals.

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