Rogers has work to do before practicing again
Posted: Friday, March 30, 2012 7:00 pm
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said rising junior wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers “has got some things he needs to do internally” in order to return to the Volunteers’ football team.
Rogers didn’t practice Thursday morning, but Dooley wouldn’t call it a suspension, and said it was his impression the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Rogers would return, and could any time, possibly as early as Thursday.
“I don’t have any knowledge of him wanting to leave,” Dooley said shortly after UT’s morning practice. “He’s never told me that or indicated that to me or anybody else.”
As a sophomore in 2011, Rogers was a first team All-SEC selection with 67 receptions for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.
“My worries when I’m out on the practice field are the guys out there,” Dooley said.
“That’s all I can focus on and that’s what the team is focused on. We can’t worry about the guys that aren’t there that day. We come in the next day, and try to reshape things. We go out the next day and see who’s out there.
“That’s all you can keep your focus on.”
The Vols are already thin at receiver this spring with only four receivers, including Rogers, who have caught a pass in their careers.
Justin Hunter is limited this spring while he fully recovers from a torn left ACL, which he suffered in UT’s 33-23 loss at Florida on Sept. 27 last season. Rajion Neal, who split time between running back and receiver last year, is practicing exclusively in the backfield this spring.
“It was tough, and it was tough on the guys,” wide receiver Zach Rogers said of Da’Rick Rogers’ absence. “We had a lot more reps and a lot more running, but I’m not really sure what’s going on in that situation. We’re just coming out here with the same mindset every day, and that’s to work hard and get better.”
Naz Oliver, who moved from defensive back to receiver last fall, said it was surprising Da’Rick Rogers didn’t practice, but that it didn’t have an effect on the team.
“We just took it like Da’Rick was injured or like how (Hunter) got injured last year. We’re a man down, but we’re still going to come out and give it our all,” Oliver said. “It’s all about just moving on and just weathering the storm. This could happen during the season at any time.”
Oliver said he talked to Da’Rick Rogers on Wednesday and “everything was fine.”
Even without the All-SEC receiver, the Vols top priority this spring is becoming more successful running the ball.
UT finished 116th out of 120 FBS teams in rushing offense last season, averaging just 90.1 rushing yards per game.
“Our emphasis this spring is running the football,” Dooley said. “That’s what we’re doing, and we’re getting a lot better at it.”
After practicing on Monday and Tuesday in shorts and helmets, the Vols were in full pads on Thursday.
“It’s always an exciting day on some fronts, but probably a lot of guys had anxiety, and it showed early in practice,” Dooley said. “Had to get them going. The mental outlook wasn’t what we wanted it to be.”
Tennessee is coming off a 5-7 record in 2011, missing a bowl game due to a loss at Kentucky in the final game of the season.
The 2012 season will begin in Atlanta when the Vols play North Carolina State in the Georgia Dome on Aug. 31.
Tennessee will begin a seven-game home portion of the schedule on Sept. 8 against Georgia State at Neyland Stadium.
Published in The Messenger 3.30.12