Monday Practice Report

KNOXVILLE- Day three of Tennessee‚s football season was considerably more upbeat than it was over the weekend. It looks as if the players are gradually sinking into a comfort level. Big plays were being made on the field and there was a little more chatter to go with it.

At one point during the three-hour work-out, cornerback Jason Allen turned to the media and wondered aloud, "Ya'll got that one," after he broke up a pass intended for wide receiver Chris Hannon. Hannon and Allen have enjoyed plenty of physical and verbal battles throughout the pre-season.

The most notable play involved C.J. Leak hitting C.J. Fayton on a 35-yard touchdown pass. However, head coach Phillip Fulmer admitted that for every good offensive play that takes place, something has to be fixed on defense.

"The quarterbacks did a good job of hitting them (the wide receivers) deep," Fulmer said. "We've hit more deep balls in the first few days. But that's a double-edged sword. You're glad to see it from a young quarterback or a new quarterback. It's concerning from a secondary standpoint."

Robert Meachams's play at the receiver position has been as good as anybody's, so far. A pre-season knee injury knocked him out of the 2003 season before it really began. In 2004, Meacham is back with a vengeance, as most in the secondary would let you know.

'Robert is showing some of the wears that we thought he had before the injury last year,'Fulmer said. 'Robert's a big guy that can really run and jump. He's going to be a hard guy to tackle."

Although the team donned shoulder pads and shorts on Monday afternoon, Fulmer is primed for Wednesday's practice when full pads will be popping.

"I can't wait until Wednesday because that's going to separate a lot,' Fulmer said. "Are we physical enough on the defensive front, particularly at defensive tackle? That‚s a huge question mark right now. I don't think we're there right now. We've got some work to do."

As for the other big question mark, Fulmer thinks the incoming freshmen quarterbacks are making a little progress. However, he openly admitted that the duo of Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer have plenty to improve upon.

"They were more comfortable today," said Fulmer. "It's only natural. I was talking to the two young ones today and every time they think they get caught up we put something else in. We're interested in when that might stop. We've always been a team that's tried to put everything in early and get it in. After we get out of camp we put in a game plan. It does have their head spinning pretty good right now."

The news away from the field saw defensive tackle Greg Jones sitting out of practice. Jones, who will red-shirt this season, was out for academic reasons according to Fulmer.

A couple of former Vols were also spotted roaming the sidelines. Neil Johnson and Billy Ratliff were present during Monday's session.

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