The latest example of Da'Rickulousness got the junior receiver suspended — perhaps ending his Tennessee career — just eight days before the Vols' 2012 season opener against North Carolina State. Addressing the media following Thursday's practice, head coach Derek Dooley declined to specify the nature of the latest incident except to say "There were recent events that led to the ultimate decision," and later adding, "Inevitably, things happen where you can't go on."
The coach did not rule out a return to the team during the 2012 season but suggested that's a real longshot, noting: "The assumption is he's not with us, and it's very unlikely he will be."
A habitual discipline problem, Rogers was known to loaf in workouts and pop off to staffers on occasion. He is believed to be a major reason that respected wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett resigned following the 2011 season.
Perhaps sensing this day might come, Dooley fortified the wide receiver position during the offseason by signing Junior College All-American Cordarrelle Patterson and four high school receivers for his 2012 recruiting class. The first-year wideouts have gotten so many practice repetitions, in fact, that Dooley said the impact of Rogers' suspension on them would be "very minimal."
Rogers' absence may prove beneficial in the long run — addition by subtraction and all that. Certainly, his antics were a distraction and his unwillingness to abide by the same rules as his teammates had to be a drain on team morale. The players interviewed following Thursday's practice seemed slightly irritated about having to again address questions about their wayward teammate but not at all surprised.
The shame of all this is that Vol fans probably will never get to see Rogers and fellow wideout Justin Hunter as a tandem again. Rogers caught 67 passes for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore last season. Hunter was on pace to post even bigger numbers until he tore an ACL in the first quarter of Game 3 against Florida. Most likely, the Hunter-Rogers partnership has been dissolved after starting just three times as a duo.
Meanwhile, Dooley has to be wondering how to disperse the dark cloud that has followed him since his arrival on The Hill 32 months ago. Many of his best players have been sidelined or lost altogether due to injury or dismissal. These include safety Janzen Jackson (dismissed), linebacker Herman Lathers (assorted injuries), wideout Hunter (ACL), quarterback Tyler Bray (fractured thumb), tight end Cameron Clear (dismissed) and now Rogers.
Given the overall level of talent and experience returning, Tennessee's 2012 offense may be just as successful without Rogers. Will it be a little less exciting and explosive?