Knee injury sidelines Ainge

Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer announced Thursday that senior Erik Ainge has suffered an injury to his right knee, believed to be a torn meniscus. Fulmer said the UT Sports Medicine Staff continues to evaluate the injury and plans are being made for surgery.

"We've got to go through the process and see the doctor," Fulmer said. "We've gotten the MRI; we've seen the radiologist; now we just have to see the doctor.

"He could practice and actually has been practicing with it for several days, but there's no reason to put him through that risk. He's had a fantastic spring."

Fulmer does not know of a single event that caused the injury, only that his quarterback has been bothered by a swollen knee over the past few days.

"We think it's probably from something that happened previously," the coach said. "It could have been in high school, it could have been here. It wasn't any trauma or any one particular lick. It sometimes happens."

Should Ainge need complete removal of the meniscus, recovery of 4-6 weeks is expected. A repair of the meniscus results in an eight- to 12-week recovery period but would be better for his long-term mobility.

"Either way, he should be just fine by the time we get to June and approaching the season," Fulmer said.

Ainge said that although he is disappointed by the injury, the timing was OK.

"I was able to practice almost the entire spring with my knee banged up," Ainge said. "It's just one of those things. There wasn't any one incidence where I tore it that I know about. I'm just going to pray for the best."

The Vols passed the halfway mark of spring practice with Thursday's session at Neyland Stadium and now are off for spring break, returning to the practice field March 20. Tennessee has six spring workouts remaining before the March 31 EdAmerica Orange and White Game.

"I'm just glad we are able to take care of it," Fulmer said. "It's another advantage of starting spring as early as we started it because it gives us plenty of recovery time."

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