Bryce sidelined ... by injury

Touted freshman tailback Bryce Brown was pulled from the field 20 minutes into Tennessee's Thursday football practice - not by the NCAA for an eligibility issue but by head coach Lane Kiffin for an injury issue.

Brown missed the last half of Monday's practice and all of Tuesday's due to a hip/leg injury. After resting on a no-practice Wednesday, he returned to action today ... but only for a few minutes.

"He came out, went through a little bit of individual (work)," Kiffin said. "You could tell he couldn't move very well on it, so we pulled him at that point.

"I hoped after a day off yesterday he was going to come back and be able to practice full-speed today, and he wasn't. Tomorrow's walk-through we'll monitor him, try to move him around a little bit, see if he's able to go Saturday (in the final full-scale scrimmage)."

Brown's injury may not be as serious as the eligibility matter he's facing. The NCAA reportedly wants him to sit out the Sept. 5 opener vs. Western Kentucky and pay restitution for a tour of college campuses he took as a sophomore at Wichita East High School. Tennessee, while not publicly acknowledging the penalty, is appealing to the NCAA.

Because Brown might not be eligible for the opener, Vol coaches may have to start limiting his practice repetitions to make sure the other tailbacks get plenty of work.

"Sure we do," Kiffin said. "We've already put in stuff for him that we're going to run in the first couple of games of the year. There comes a point where we obviously need to know (if he's available or not) because that affects our team and our offense if we're giving him plays and reps that, if he's not going to be there, we need to give to somebody else."

Asked how Brown is handling the distraction of the NCAA eligibility matter, Kiffin shrugged.

"I think he's doing OK," the head man said. "I don't know how a senior would deal with it very well ... let alone a freshman."

Complicating matters is the fact that Brown is ultra-serious about football. It is more than just a game to him.

"Football is No. 1 to him," Kiffin said. "Being a great player is No. 1 to him.... This is a kid that trains every day of his life because he's so serious about being a great player. This is hard for him.... Right now it's in question to him if he's going to have taken away everything that he's worked for.

"We're working with him, and I'm hoping for the best."

Kiffin said Brad Bertani, who handles UT's compliance issues, is putting together a case to support Bryce Brown's appeal. That's essentially all the school can do at this point.

"It's consuming," Kiffin said. "It's on my mind all the time because I want what's best for the kid."

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