Butch Jones wasted little time in thrusting his Tennessee team into early, 11-on-11 work Monday afternoon on Haslam Field as the Vols continued their pre-season camp with Jones urging "Let's play football!"
Moving through their final practice before donning full pads under the lights Tuesday night, Tennessee worked ones versus ones, twos against twos and closed with third-string work.
Starters on offense in the first-team setting were: Justin Worley, QB; Rajion Neal, RB; Brendan Downs, TE; Ja'Wuan James, RT; Zach Fulton, RG; James Stone, C; Alex Bullard, LG; Antonio 'Tiny' Richardson, LT; Marquez North, WR; Josh Smith, WR; Pig Howard, WR.
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The defense opened with: Brian Randolph, S; Max Arnold, S; Justin Coleman, CB; Cam Sutton, CB; JaRon Toney, NB; A.J. Johnson, LB; Dontavis Sapp, LB; Marlon Walls, DE; Dan McCullers, DT; Dan Hood, DT; Jacques Smith, DE.
The starters on offense moved downfield but didn't strike for a score. Worley hit Downs, who made a nice one-handed catch and scooted upfield. Jones barked for players to stay up and not be tackled to the ground, but the aggressiveness on both sides of the ball oftentimes resulted in players going to the turf. Nonetheless, every offensive ball-carrier or pass-catcher was expected to follow through on his runs even after being stopped.
Marlin Lane exploded through the hole on the second-team offense's opening play for a long gainer and that unit also moved the ball well before the defense tightened up. Jones could be heard bellowing challenges to junior college tight end Woody Quinn to improve his physicality.
Tino Thomas picked off Riley Ferguson in third-team work for a generous pick-six, stepping in front of a pass along the sideline and racing with a convoy of defenders to the end zone. Thomas was mobbed by many teammates for his "touchdown," and those who did not make it to the end zone were strongly admonished by both Curt Maggitt and Dontavis Sapp in an unquestionable show of leadership.
Ryan Jenkins and Smith also had nice catches during offensive team work, with Smith catching a ball on the offense's left sideline and being forced out by Randolph. Jenkins had an acrobatic catch-and-run, gaining a big chunk of yardage before being tumbled out of bounds.
Neal had a couple of solid runs but also was ordered to run laps by Jones after a breakdown in a team setting.
The third-team offense had some issues with snapping the ball as one errant snap sailed beyond Ferguson that eventually bounded out of the end zone for a safety. Josh Dobbs also had a bad shotgun-snap exchange that drew the ire of the head coach.
In the pit today were Byron Moore and LaDarrell McNeil, which contributed to Arnold starting. But the walk-on safety who has drawn early praise from coaches and players continued to show even in individual drills why he is commanding discussion for playing time.
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