Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt was pleased with what he saw from his team in the hour-long session inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which saw a few from the injured list return to the practice fields.
"We had an excellent Thursday today," Nutt said. "(Safety) Fon (Ingram) moved around a little bit today. Hopefully we'll be able to use him Saturday. (Guard) A.J (Hawkins) was back out, but he probably won't play Saturday."
With tackles Bradley Sowell and John Jerry sidelined against Northern Arizona a week ago, Nutt and staff showcased a make-shift offensive line including freshman Bobby Massie at right tackle.
For the game, Massie received rave reviews, leading to the 6-foot-7, 330 pounder getting more practice time with the first team this week. At times in practice Thursday, Jerry moved inside to right guard and Massie played alongside.
Nutt was asked if the look should be expected this weekend versus Tennessee.
"I don't know," he said. "We'll probably just go the way we've been going with Brandon Green and John Jerry. But we'll see how it goes. We have confidence in those guys, so that's what's good."
The front's performance in the 38-14 win over the Lumberjacks was a refreshing sight, according to Nutt.
"We don't have a great deal of depth there, but I'm glad we were able to play some of those guys last week," said Nutt. "You feel better about a guy like Alex Washington, Bobby Massie and those guys."
Sitting 6-3 (2-3 SEC) overall with three games late in the season, concerns of fatigue throughout the team continues to weigh on the minds of the coaches.
Since the team's bye-week came in the second week of the season following Memphis, Ole Miss is enduring a stretch of 11-straight games. After falling to Auburn on the Plains and an uninspiring win over NAU, the question of whether the team was playing its best football nine games into the season was posed to the Rebel head coach.
"You've got to realize, it's the 10th straight week. That's a hard road physically," he said. "It's taxing. It's hard to be up every single game. But we do the best we can to be hyped for every game. It's hard stepping out of conference. That's why there's upsets around the country. We'll be ready to go Saturday. No question about it."
* The Volunteers were struck with some disturbing news Thursday, as three members of the team were arrested earlier in the morning in Knoxville on charges of attempted armed robbery. Though not addressing the matter directly, Nutt said dealing with such a matter is a coach's worst nightmare. "Each team is different. It depends on your senior leadership," said Nutt. "Sometimes it affects you, sometimes it doesn't. You have to factor in how much those guys have been playing or how much their contributing. Any time you lose a starter who makes a bad decision, I think it affects you. But again, it's about how you handle it."
* Freshman wide receiver/return specialist Jesse Grandy was again dressed and participating in practice. Nutt said Grandy, who is only the third Rebel in school history to return to kickoffs for touchdowns in a season, is expected to go in full when the Vols roll into town.
* Remaining on the injury front, junior strong safety Johnny Brown was running with the first team today. Brown missed last week's matchup with NAU with a groin injury, but appears to be close to 100 percent. On the other hand, middle linebacker D.T. Shackelford is still limited due to an ankle injury and his status appears doubtful for UT. "I'd have liked to see where he'd be if we would have had him full speed since the fourth game," Nutt said of the frosh. "He's going to be a very good football player here."
* Ever since suffering a season-ending leg injury early in fall camp, redshirt freshman Jason Jones has been on an arduous road to recovery. However, the youngster has handled the process well, despite being held to no leg work in weight training. Jones has bulked up to 242 pounds and should factor heavily into the team's plans in the seasons to come.
* There hasn't been much mention of the status of injured running back Tim Simon since the freshman's season was halted against South Carolina with an ACL tear. Simon underwent the first of two operations to repair the knee in late September, and remains on track for a second as early as January. "He's going to school. It's just been very difficult and very tough," said Nutt of Simon. "When you can't play and there's another surgery around the corner, it's tough. We've tried to keep him lifted. He's doing good."
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