KNOXVILLE — There’s been a lot of talk about practice etiquette at Tennessee, and teammates taking care of one another on the practice field as Coach Butch Jones looks to minimize injuries.
The Vols will still be careful with their techniques, but at some point, football is football. The hitting starts today at Haslam Field.
Linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, still recovering from a shoulder injury, figures to be held out.
But Reeves-Maybin, one of UT’s four captains, indicated the action figures to be intense.
“The athleticism all over the field is crazy,” said Reeves-Maybin, who was one of four players to meet the press on Thursday.
Reeves-Maybin said he’ll be watching the young players as they look to establish themselves.
“You just have to establish yourself as a physical player,” Reeves-Maybin said, asked what advice he’d give the younger players heading into the start of full-contact practice.
“I talked to (freshmen) Austin Pope and Brandon Johnson, you put your identity out there,” he said. “I’ve got to know you’re willing to put your face in there. As long as I know you’re not scared to go in there and get dirty, that’s what really matters.”
Tailback Jalen Hurd has proven himself many times over, and that could be why he’s in a green no-contact jersey.
Hurd said he needs contact this fall, but Jones has said he will manage Hurd carefully, not wanting to endanger the super star.
Hurd said Wednesday that he received great private training in Orange County, Calif., over the summer, that brought him to gains he would not have attained working out with his teammates in Knoxville.
Hurd, however, gave no indication of having any sort of injury that would require him to wear a green jersey later in the day.
Jones has yet to address any sort of injury to Hurd, so the green jersey treatment for the gifted tailback is likely precautionary.
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s SEC Country and lives in Knoxville.