KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee is starting to get healthy — mostly — at the right time.
With a spot in the SEC Championship still alive, the Vols returned four key starters for its home tilt against Kentucky (noon, SEC Network).
Senior cornerback Cam Sutton, who has missed Tennessee’s last six games with a broken ankle, returned to action for the first time since Sept. 17. Sutton has started all 41 games of his career and immediately boosts a secondary that’s been exposed at times with big plays.
Tennessee’s defensive backfield was also aided by the return of safety Micah Abernathy, slowed by a hamstring in recent weeks, and cornerback Malik Foreman, who is dealing with a shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, explosive tailback Alvin Kamara will play against the Wildcats, too. Kamara, who has six total touchdowns and leads the Vols with over 700 all-purpose yards, returns from a knee injury sustained against Alabama on a punt return.
Alvin Kamara will start today. The Vols junior missed 3 games with a knee injury. He's sporting a massive brace but looked good in warmups. pic.twitter.com/XHXiPltS67
— Jesse Re Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) November 12, 2016
The Vols offensive line shuffle continues, though, as sophomore right tackle Chance Hall is out after reaggravating his knee against Tennessee Tech last Saturday.
With no Hall, Tennessee inserted redshirt sophomore Drew Richmond back into the starting lineup for the first time since Sept. 10 against Virginia Tech. Richmond manned left tackle, while junior Brett Kendrick slid over to right tackle.
Richmond started the first two games of the season at left tackle, but he was promptly benched against the Hokies and has played sparingly since.
However, Jones has praised the redshirt freshman’s improvement in recent weeks.