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Notes, Observations From Tennessee's First Padded Practice of Fall Camp

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Tennessee hit the practice field early on Sunday morning for their first padded practice of preseason camp. The Vols are working towards an important scrimmage on Tuesday that will go a long ways in setting the depth chart. Below are Volunteer Country's notes and observations from the media viewing period.

Fundamental Focus

Yesterday and again today, Tennessee focused fundamentals in the media viewing period, especially with tackling as the Vols work towards Tuesday's scrimmage. The DBs emphasized wrapping up in the open field early on this. The turnover circuit continues to get more intense by the day as the coaching staff is really emphasizing perfection during this period. 

Ekeler Energy

Mike Ekeler is full of energy, but with full pads coming on today, he was full of life. He made a line straight for Byron Young and Roman Harrison during stretches to let them know they better be ready to go when things got going. He was very focal during his group period as well. 

Demanding More of James Pearce 

James Pearce has a chance to be a factor for the Vols as 2022 goes on, and today, the coaching staff was demanding more of him. He has some of the quickest feet that I have seen for a player his size in a long time, but the staff is now demanding excellence as they work towards Tuesday's scrimmage. Pearce will have his opportunities to get after the passer and prove that he has a rotational spot as a freshman. So it is important they get him up to speed in a hurry. 

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Limited Participants

As we noted on Saturday morning, Jerome Carvin worked out on the side. This morning he went through stretches but was not in full pads. It does not appear to be anything serious with him at this point, though. Christian Charles and Labruzza remain in non-contact jerseys. One new name to note today was Bru McCoy. He was dressed in full pads, but after the transition from the indoor to the practice field,  he was getting stretched and working out with the trainers. He didn't appear to be in any obvious pain, but he did not go through routes on air, so we will continue to monitor this for the time being. Kamal Hadden was still not participating, at least from what I was able to see. Veteran RB Lyn-J Dixon is still getting acclimated, so he was not in full pads today. He was still in shells, but he should be good to go into full pads in the next couple of days. 

Routes on Air

We were not allowed to film this period today as the Vols worked deeper concepts. Out of respect for what the coaching staff asked of not filming, we will not talk about what specific routes they ran, but the chemistry looked solid during the session, and I didn't see a ball hit the turf. I continue to like what I see from Ramel Keyton, Jalin Hyatt and Walker Merrill. Alex Golesh praised Merrill before the start of camp, and he does appear to have the potential to be a swing man for the Vols. He has worked in the slot and out wide at times. Squirrel White, Kaleb Webb and Chas Nimrod all continue to have a solid start to their time at Tennessee as well. 

OL Work

Tennessee's offensive line worked different combinations today and I did see Darnell Wright back on the left side at one point. It is not surprising as Glen Elarbee has always left open the combination of working guys at different spots. Whoever loses the battle for the second tackle spot is going to have to be a swing guy for the Vols OL, so it makes since to cross train them. I am not ready to read too much into that at this point. We should know more coming out of the scrimmage. 

LB Depth

Brian Jean-Mary talked about this earlier in the week, and I paid closer attention to it today. I felt like Pak Garland had a few good reps as well as Elijah Herring. The Vols were barely two deep at the position last year, but it certainly feels like they have more to work with in 2022. Aaron Beasley and Jeremy Banks are still pacing the way here. Beasley looks much better now that he is healthier.