Tailback sneak?

Every football team features a quarterback sneak. The Tennessee Vols showcased a variation – call it the tailback sneak – during Tuesday's practice at Haslam Field.

Tailback Montario Hardesty, who is supposed to be limited this spring because of a knee injury, went against doctor's orders by sneaking into an 11-on-11 drill for a few plays.

Although Hardesty broke a rule, head coach Phillip Fulmer broke into a big grin as he recalled the breach of conduct following the workout.

"Montario Hardesty actually ran a couple of plays up in there today," the coach said, "and he looked REALLY good."

After a brief pause, Fulmer added: "He wasn't supposed to be doing that – being in an 11-on-11 situation – so we took him back out. But it was good to see him make a cut and do some things."

As a true freshman Hardesty was making a serious bid for the No. 2 tailback job behind Gerald Riggs last August when nagging injuries slowed his progress. He saw mop-up action in a couple of games, then suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Fulmer noted that the Vols have a lot of players "who need to be out here full-time but aren't able to be out here right now."

Injuries and off-season surgeries sidelined roughly two dozen players last spring, and the same problem is cropping up this spring. A few of the injured players have rejoined the team after the recent 11-day spring break, however.

"The kids came back in good shape," Fulmer said. "We had a number of guys who haven't been out to practice that were able to participate, so in that way the break helped us."

Despite the lengthy hiatus, the head man noted that "It didn't look like we had a whole lot of fall-off in execution or conditioning. We're back to a pretty good start."

Tennessee will be off Wednesday, then practice Thursday and Friday before holding its second full-scale scrimmage of the spring on Saturday afternoon.

"There are just a few practices left," Fulmer said. "Honestly, we've got to take advantage of every one of them to get close to where we'd like to call it a successful spring."

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