Vols Contend With Injury Bug

The Vols received more bad news on Thursday regarding the ever present injury bug nipping at the team.

For starters, three quarters of the highly touted freshman quartet of receivers were missing in action. Robert Meacham missed his second consecutive practice with a damaged meniscus in his right knee. The injury will cause him to miss at least three weeks according to head coach Phillip Fulmer.

"It looks like Robert Meacham is going to have a scope and should be back by the Marhsall game," Fulmer said.

Cody Douglas, a sophomore offensive lineman, shared his unique perspective about being banged up after practice.

"Injuries are a necessary evil in football," Douglas said. "You know you're going to have them and you know they're going to come. You never want them, but you have to prepare yourself if they do come and be ready for them and not have a total meltdown if they do."

Although Meacham's injury is not season ending, it will put one of the most dominant receivers in Tennessee's arsenal on the shelf during some of the most crucial practice time of the year. The Vols will hold their first big scrimmage of the short season on Saturday.

"That will be as close as we'll get to a full type game scrimmage as we turn our attention more to Fresno State," said Fulmer.

As far as the team is concerned, Meacham's absence cannot be underestimated.

"Meacham was as far along as any freshman we've had here that I can remember," Fulmer said.

The two other freshmen receivers who sat out of Thursday's workout were Jayson Swain and Bret Smith. Swain continues to nurse a pulled groin, while Smith also tends to some nagging injuries of his own.

The offensive line was a dealt a bit of a blow, too. Senior tackle SeanYoung sat out with a bum knee. Unfortunately for Sean, the injury couldn't have come at a worse time. Young looked like he was finally ready to become the player that coaches thought he could be, three years removed from high school.

"Sean was having his very best camp," Fulmer said of the senior lineman. "He was on track to do really well."

With Young being out of the starting rotation on the offensive line, a youthfully exuberant Douglas moves in at right tackle. Douglas, who can play either right guard or tackle, believes he is ready to step up and into the limelight.

"I never shut out the idea of sliding back out at tackle," Douglas said. "I always stayed prepared just in case something like this was to occur and I would be ready whenever it did."

Douglas doesn't mince any words either when he talks about what he and his teammates want to do when they set foot on the field.

"Right now we're at a point where we just want to dominate," said Douglas. "We want to go out there on the field and make the defensive line pay. We're ready to get after people and inflict pain."

Speaking of pain, the defensive tackle position still seems to be a thorn in Fulmer's side. As the second week of practice is about to wrap up, it's a mystery as to who will provide depth and ability.

"Nobody's emerged as a guy that says 'Hey I want this job,'" Fulmer said. "We're not where we need to be. A couple guys seem like they're going through the motions. They're going to have to enjoy smelling the diesel fuel, as we pull away they're left at home."

On a positive note, aside from Douglas returning from an injured shoulded, junior wide reciever Derrick Tinsley was back on the field after spraining his ankle last week.

The Vols resume two-a-days on Friday morning.


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