Foster's fast start

After missing spring practice while recovering from knee and shoulder surgeries, Tennessee tailback Arian Foster was eager to see how he performed in his first scrimmage work of preseason. Vol coaches, teammates and fans were eager, too.

So far, so good. After reviewing films of Tuesday night's scrimmaging, head coach Phillip Fulmer cited Foster as one of the positive developments.

"There were plays made in the secondary, and that was good," Fulmer said. "There were a couple of plays made by Arian Foster. Ja'Kouri Williams ran better than I've seen him since he's been here, and that was good to see."

Foster ran for a team-high 879 yards last fall and is being counted on as UT's top offensive weapon for 2006. Thus, Fulmer was relieved that Foster showed no timidity in the wake of his surgeries.

"He looked fine," the head man said. "That was our concern We know he's a good back. He's a guy we hope can be a complete back for us – running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield, blocking and protecting."

Foster said the great thing about being back on the field again was simply BEING on the field again.

"It felt good to get out there and get a feel for the game again," he said. "I felt like I picked up things pretty quick but I still have a lot to work on."

Asked what he did best, Foster smiled and replied: "I picked up a blitz. Our defense is one of the fastest in the SEC, so I feel like that's a test."

While sidelined last spring, Foster couldn't work on the physical aspect of his game, so he tried to improve the mental aspect by studying UT's offensive system.

The point?

"Understanding the offense and what we're trying to accomplish, as far as route-running and where people need to be," he said. "Everything goes a lot more smoothly when you know what's going on. The game slows down."

Likr Fulmer, new running backs coach Kurt Roper was pleased with what he saw in Foster's first game-type action since last November's finale against Kentucky.

"I think he's come in in great shape," the Vol aide said. "I think he understands the offense from all the reps he got last year. He's a dang, dang hard competitor. I think he's been impressive."

Foster played much of the 2005 with knee and shoulder problems, finally undergoing surgeries at season's end.

"He's a tough, tough football player, with all the things he played through last year," Roper said. "You see that he can play through pain and still make plays in that situation."

WEDNESDAY PRACTICE: Fulmer said the Vols "kind of lost our energy, lost our enthusiasm" after having a "pretty good" scrimmage the previous evening. He suggested the afternoon heat may have contributed to the overall lethargy.

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