KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- WVLT contributor Austin Price has confirmed for Sports Overtime that a ruptured Achilles tendon will sideline defensive end Ben Martin for the entire 2010 season .
The Vol senior left Thursday's practice on crutches.
Martin has struggled with a knee injury throughout the off season, but after practice Thursday coach Derek Dooley didn't think the Cincinnati native reaggravated that injury. He was right!
The Vols are especially deep at defensive end compared to the rest of the squad with the return of Chris Walker, Gerald Williams and Willie Bohannon and the addition of Jacques Smith, Corey Miller and Malik Jackson.
Again, Martin is a senior, but does have a red shirt season available to him. After practice coach Dooley said, “It looks like he’s going to be out for quite some time; it looks like an Achilles issue,” head coach Derek Dooley said following Friday’s afternoon workout at Haslam Field. “Anytime you lose a good player, it hurts. It hurts your team.”
Martin started 11 games last season and owns 33 career appearances. The Cincinnati native finished 2009 with 38 tackles, including 3-1/2 sacks for minus-32 yards. His three pass deflections tied for fourth on the team.
Martin played as a true freshman in 2007, so he still has a medical redshirt option for 2011.
“He’s got another year, but I’m not ready to say he’s out for the year,” Dooley said. “Let’s see what happens in rehab and see how it goes. But he does have another year of eligibility if it’s that bad.”
Suddenly stepping into the picture for increased playing time is junior Malik Jackson, who transferred in July from Southern California after the Trojans were hit with NCAA sanctions. Dooley says that summer move definitely has worked to the Vols’ benefit.
“We wouldn’t have brought him here if we didn’t think we needed help. One of the things we told him was both of our d-ends were on crutches, so we’re glad he’s here.”
Jackson, who played in all 13 games for USC last season, was free to go to another school and play immediately because of USC’s penalties. He contributed 18 tackles, including 3-1/2 sacks, plus a forced fumble and two pass deflections to the 9-4 Trojans.
Saturday’s scheduled practice is the first this camp that the entire squad will be together. Friday was the last of the split-squad sessions, although it was the first day with shoulder pads added to the attire.
“Every time there’s something new, it’s always an adjustment period and it was today,” Dooley said. “You put on the pads, things are a little heavier, body’s not used to carrying the load, so it’s tough -- and it should be tough.
“We put in third-down today, installing down-and-distance, and are starting to get some awareness and working our third-down packages on offense and defense.”
The Vols head coach expects more adjustments over the weekend, especially for his newcomers.
“Their eyes will get a little big. Some of them will pick it up pretty quickly and catch up and some of them will get back there in the crowd and hide a little bit. It just depends on the guy.
“The point of it is you’ve got no choice. You’ve got to keep up.”
The Vols practice in pads for the first time Sunday afternoon.