Tennessee’s pass rush has taken at least one short-term hit health-wise, with the possibility of a second, perhaps longer-term hit in the offing.
Defensive end Jacques Smith, head coach Butch Jones said, suffered a fractured thumb during Tuesday night’s practice and underwent surgery Wednesday to repair the damage. Smith will be out for a period of 4-6 weeks.
As the Vols first game is 23 days away — Aug. 31 vs. Austin Peay — Smith’s availability for the opener is very much in doubt. Jones, however, isn’t prepared to rule the lineman out just yet.
“We’ll see how he progresses,” Jones said. “We may have him back for the Austin Peay game. That’s what we’re looking towards. He may be good to go. We’ll probably know further details here in a week or so.”
As a linebacker last season, Smith played in 12 games. He moved to the defensive line as Jones brought the 4-3 defense back to the Vols.
In addition to Smith’s injury, his backup, Corey Vereen, has been bothered by some type of knee issue and underwent an MRI Wednesday. The results, Jones said, should be back Thursday.