Are Vols over-training?

With three key receivers sidelined by offseason injuries many Tennessee fans are wondering if the Vols might be training too hard in their voluntary workouts.

Head coach Lane Kiffin wondered the same thing, admittedly thinking: "Is it the offseason program?"

Not knowing the answer to that question, Kiffin sought out head trainer Jason McVeigh.

"I talked to our trainer about it," the head man recalled. "I sat down with him and really discussed this."

Pulling no punches, Kiffin immediately asked: "Is it anything that we're doing?"

McVeigh said it wasn't, eventually convincing the head coach that the injuries to receivers Austin Rogers, Denarius Moore and Gerald Jones represented an unrelated string of bad breaks.

Rogers will miss the entire 2009 season after tearing an ACL. Jones, recovering slower than expected from wrist surgery, could miss the opener. So could Moore, who is out for 6-8 weeks after re-injuring what turned out to be a broken bone in his foot.

"Denarius actually was injured during spring, didn't think it was very big and played through it," Kiffin said. "In the offseason ... he did something to it that really aggravated it, so we had to put a pin in it."

Ultimately, the head man says the three injuries are "all different freak deals. It's not from over-training. It's not from doing too much. I wanted to make sure it wasn't that. It's just some unfortunate luck."

Although there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the Vol Nation, Kiffin is handling the rash of injuries philosophically.

"I look at in the positive,"he said. "It gives our other guys opportunities to step up, especially our young guys. Austin won't be back but, hopefully, we'll get the other guys back as soon as we can.

"If we can get both of them back and healthy by the opener - which I don't think we will - it actually would work better. All of those reps they would've gotten will go to some younger guys. So, when they (younger guys) have to step up and play they'll be better."

The injuries to Rogers, Jones and Moore leave Tennessee with just three veteran receivers - senior Quintin Hancock, junior Brandon Warren and sophomore Todd Campbell - plus incoming freshmen Nu'Keese Richardson, James Green, Marsalis Teague and Zach Rogers.

Richardson, Teague and Rogers already are on campus and participating in voluntary workouts. Green, according to Kiffin, "is not here yet."

Asked if he might move any freshman defensive backs to wide receiver to bolster the depth, Kiffin shook his head.

"There are a couple of young guys that could go over there (Eric Gordon, Nyshier Oliver) but I think we'll have enough," the coach said. "If you get too many it's too watered down. If you put six freshmen over there, then nobody's getting (enough reps to be) really good.

"We'll really focus on the guys that start fast at the beginning of camp and see if we can get them ready."

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