In spite of a cast on his left wrist, Gerald Jones competed full-speed in Tuesday's opening workout at Haslam Field. He ran some good routes. He showcased some sharp cuts. He made some nifty catches. In short, he looked just like the Gerald Jones that led Tennessee with 30 catches last fall ... except for the cast.
Even when team doctors suggested he might not be healthy in time for Tennessee's Sept. 5 opener, Jones knew he would prove their gloomy forecast wrong.
"No doubt," he said, literally beaming at the conclusion of Tuesday's practice. "My mind was set. I was going to practice the first day of practice no matter what. I relaxed and I healed and I rehabbed and I did what it took for me to do. And my wrist didn't give me any problems today."
Asked if he could play if the Vols had a game scheduled on Tuesday, Jones smiled.
"Yeah," he said. "I would play with this cast on, but I would play."
Frank Wilson, Tennessee's first-year wide receivers coach, applauded Jones' determination. The Vol aide believes Jones' presence at practice sent a message to his teammates.
"It says a lot," Wilson said. "It speaks volumes of his character ... what type of person he is. That competitive nature becomes contagious. To have him out here practicing the way he did out here today speaks volumes. Those younger kids see that and, hopefully, they can replicate that and show that work ethic that he displays."
Vol coaches exhibited quite a work ethic on Tuesday, too. As was the case last spring, their energy and enthusiasm remained at a high level throughout the three-hour workout. But that didn't surprise Jones.
"With these coaches, I don't expect nothing less than their best," he said. "They're always going to be up-tempo. They're always going to be yelling and screaming and pushing us to (play to) the best of our abilities.
"If they ever get underneath that, then I'll be worried."