Sept. 30, 2009
Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin said after practice Wednesday that Thursday would be an important practice for players coming off injuries as the Vols prepare for their first home Southeastern Conference game against Auburn at Neyland Stadium.
Saturday's kickoff is at 7:45 p.m. Eastern Time and will be broadcast on ESPN.
As has been the case in recent weeks, Kiffin addressed team injuries following practice.
"Chris Walker wasn't able to do much today, and neither was (Montario) Hardesty," Kiffin said. "Other than that, we're starting to get some guys back today. (Herman) Lathers was out there all day today, and Wes Brown did some stuff in practice, which was good. Tomorrow will be a big day for a lot of guys who either haven't been practicing or have only been practicing half days."
Kiffin said Hardesty had his knee drained earlier in the week, adding he did not want to rush Hardesty back to full contact too early.
Hardesty is coming off his second-career 100-yard rushing game, running for 120 yards against Ohio. He leads the SEC in rushing with 121.25 yards per game, and last week, he passed the 1,500-yard rushing mark for his career.
"I just told him that when he came out and did run throughs - which is a fast version of walk throughs at the end of practice - I was worried that he was going too fast on his knee," Kiffin said. "But that's the mentality you want. If you're around the sport long enough, you are going to find some players who are looking for a way out, trying to get out of practice by making their injuries look worse and just getting to game day."
"He's the exact opposite, which is why he's a leader on this team. He embodies exactly how we want to be as a team."
Hardesty, a senior and team captain, has done more than just run up the yardage this season. He has also scored a touchdown in each of the Vols' four games.
Kiffin was pleased with the performance of the passing game in practice.
"It was a good practice for the most part today," Kiffin said. "I thought Jonathan (Crompton) threw the ball really well, and the receivers had a good day."