Tennessee's 13th practice of spring camp, the Vols' final full-pad workout prior to Saturday's Orange & White game, saw head coach Butch Jones unveil a brand-new special teams drill midway through the session and more up-tempo situational work.
The Vols also again practiced without junior tailback Marlin Lane, whom sources have told VolQuest.com is unlikely to rejoin the team anymore this spring after being suspended indefinitely last week. Rajion Neal and Alden Hill continued to command the majority of reps in Lane's absence, with both Neal and Hill garnering some first-team reps on Wednesday morning.
Tennessee is scheduled for the second of its only back-to-back practices of Jones' first spring Thursday morning at Neyland Stadium; the Vols had bumped back their scheduled Tuesday practice one day, presumably because of the scheduled joint SEC/ESPN press conference that was to be held Tuesday in Atlanta. That event was postponed indefinitely following the bombings Monday at the Boston Marathon.
As for the Vols' work on Wednesday, filmed at times from a remote-controlled aerial camera for an upcoming television special, they continued to work live team situations with the one defense battling the second-team offense coming off its own goal line and some live seven-on-seven work as well.
LaTroy Lewis had a smashing tackle-for-loss of Devrin Young during some team work, and A.J. Johnson also nearly had an interception. The Vols continued to experiment along the offensive front, where Marcus Jackson, wearing the No. 75, worked some first-team left guard while Zach Fulton worked some at tackle and also got a few snaps at center. James Stone saw some time at left guard while Alex Bullard worked at center.
Senior defensive tackle Daniel Hood donned the green, non-contact jersey but participated in some individual drills and then performed conditioning runs alongside Mo Couch later in practice. As for non-participants: Riyahd Jones, Jacob Carter, Justin Meredith, Brendan Downs, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Paul Harris, Curt Maggitt, Antonio 'Tiny' Richardson and Justin Meredith all worked in the corner of the practice field reserved for those rehabbing from surgeries or recovering from injuries this spring. Carter indicated last week he had another two to three weeks in the walking boot that he's wearing on his right foot; Jones was shaken up in Saturday's scrimmage while defending a pass. Richardson was wearing his normal practice jersey, but the junior offensive lineman has been held out of all contact work this spring while he recovers from minor offseason surgery in his knee.
Justin Worley continued to command most first-team reps at quarterback during the team's first 10 periods, and A.J. Johnson was praised by Jones for setting the tone and also again worked on the side for individual instruction with defensive coordinator John Jancek.
The new special teams drill, which Jones unveiled and explained on the fly, divided the field into thirds, and punt returners were given from the hash-mark to the sideline on alternating kicks from the left and right sides. No one was allowed into the middle of the field, which was blocked off with tackling pads. Returners had to field the punt and then attempt to return against three defenders, who also were blocked at the line of scrimmage before their release. Punt returners for the drill were: Devrin Young, Alton 'Pig' Howard and Winston Williams.