Hurd improves, injury update, more

The 120th version of the Tennessee Volunteers was back at work on Rocky Top on Tuesday.

Even Jalen Hurd has something he wants to improve on for 2016.

It might seem like the rising junior's biggest goal for this season is to not get injured, but Hurd knows even the greatest players work toward improving aspects of their game on a daily basis. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound running back ran for 1,288 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, carrying the offense at times en route to a 9-4 record and Outback Bowl win. 

So what does Hurd, who turned in the most productive season by a Tennessee rusher since 2009, want to get better at as he looks to capitalize on his junior season?

"I'm really just working on my second-level cuts," Hurd said. "I'm working on just my burst and top-end speed and just sideline and trying to stay in-bounds, stuff like that." 

The Hendersonville native watches players like former Tennessee running back Jamal Lewis, along with current NFL players like Todd Gurley to help himself improve on his cuts and second-level running.

"When you get in the open field, just making the guy miss any time," Hurd said. "Second level cuts, that's a linebacker, and a linebacker you need to shake him up and make him miss. That's just the mark of a great running back." 

Hurd is only 891 yards away from breaking the all-time Tennessee rushing record of 3,078 set by Travis Henry. As he prepares to enter his third season with the Vols, the former Beech Senior High School star is acutely aware of the history he's working on making in 2016.

"I've definitely thought about that," Hurd said. "That would be amazing. That's definitely something that's a goal and I definitely want to do. It wasn't a specific goal, but you always have goals like that that are like, 'If I could do that, that would be awesome.' Now that it's reachable, I definitely want to do that."

Passing Improvements

Butch Jones didn't mask his disappointment in his team's passing game Saturday during situational scrimmaging, saying it "must improve" before the Orange and White Game April 16. With the spring game less than a week away, Jones' throw game now has just three scholarship wide receivers working behind a still-fluctuating offensive line. 

"There's obviously a lot of different things that went into Saturday," Dobbs said. "We're down a couple of receivers, some different guys. The defense was doing different stuff, we were doing different stuff and it was all scripted situations. You've got to make the most of them."

Despite Jones' disappointment, there were some bright spots to take away.

"We had big plays," Dobbs said "Cody (Blanc) had a nice touchdown catch. Preston (Williams) did some good things. Jeff (George) is coming along and other guys are stepping up. We got better and we improved, and that's all you can do any time you step on the field." 

Injury Update 

Tennessee added two players to its growing injury list on Tuesday when it was announced wide receivers Jauan Jennings and Vincent Perry will miss the rest of spring practice and the Orange and White Game with undisclosed injuries. 

"They should both be back by mid-June," Butch Jones said. "I'm not going to tell you what it is." 

Wide receiver Josh Smith also missed Tuesday's practice session on Haslam Field but is expected to be back before Saturday's spring game inside Neyland Stadium. Cornerback Justin Martin returned to practice after missing three sessions with sickness. 

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