KNOXVILLE – Day No. 2 of spring practice was Tennessee’s last day of non-contact practice as the Vols will don shoulder pads for the first time on Thursday. The team spent Tuesday focused on technique-footwork, hand placement-and ran through some basic plays on offense during the portion of practice open to media.
– Cornerback Prentiss Waggner (shoulder), wide receiver Justin Hunter (ACL), defensive tackle Daniel Hood (shoulder), linebacker Brent Brewer (ACL) and linebacker Curt Maggitt (shoulder) all continued to wear red, non-contact jerseys and participated on a limited basis. Hood has been the most limited and has not participated in many defensive line drills.
– Linebacker Herman Lathers was back on the field for his second day of full-speed practice. He said he was “85 to 90 percent” on Monday and was wearing a small brace on his left ankle on Tuesday. He appeared to be moving well and was usually the first to finish an agility drill involving a high step over blocking pads.
– Guard Zach Fulton (stress fracture) did not participate in any part of practice Monday or Tuesday.
– Defensive end Trent Taylor was in uniform but not participating in drills during the open session.
How the defense looked:
The defense didn’t line up as a complete unit on Tuesday as they mainly focused on position drills during the open portion of practice. With the 3-4 front being implemented, several players will be used in a different way than they were last year.
Here is a breakdown of where key players were working on Tuesday:
Three open practice observations
1. Nose tackle Maurice Couch has come a long way in his conditioning since first arriving out of junior college last summer. He appeared to have no problem running through agility drills in the open portion of practice. He struggled to complete even basic drills in fall camp last season.
2. After missing last season, the coaches are giving defensive end Steven Fowlkes a chance to show what he can do this spring. He is listed as a co-starter on the ‘organizational chart’ and has gotten the first shot at most drills for his position. He drew praise from defensive line coach John Palermo Tuesday multiple times for his technique during drills.
3. Inside linebacker has a chance to be one of the Vols’ strongest positions if Lathers can get back to his old self. They currently have Lathers, Maggitt and Johnson, perhaps the three most naturally talented linebackers on the team, all working inside.
Fifth-year senior cornerback Prentiss Waggner: “I feel like the old guy out there – me and my roommate Rod Wilks have been around awhile.”