Most coaches will tell you that injuries are simply a part of football. Yet even by the tough-guy standard that the sport inflicts on its participants, the Tennessee Volunteers have had an unspeakably unlucky rash of injuries this season.
Virtually every meaningful player on the Vols has missed at least some time this season, with the injuries ranging from season-ending (like in the case of All-SEC linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin) to those that cost players like Jalen Hurd a game or two. And the news got even worse on Tuesday when it was revealed that Alvin Kamara -- who just two weeks ago rushed for 127 yards and had another 161 receiving against Texas A&M -- will miss at least 2-4 weeks after suffering multiple knee injuries against Alabama.
So just how bad has the Vols' string of injuries been? Here is a look at what they’ve dealt with this season as they head into a much-needed bye on Saturday.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin (shoulder - out for the season)
The senior linebacker, and 2015 All-SEC performer was injured in a Sept. 17 win over Ohio. After undergoing surgery earlier in the year, Reeves-Maybin hoped to return this season but a second surgery last week has sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
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Kahlil McKenzie (torn pectoral - out for the season)
The son of former Tennessee Vol (and current Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie) got his first career start at defensive tackle Saturday, and proceeded to tear his pectoral muscle. The former five-star recruit will miss the remainder of the 2016 season.
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Quart’e Sapp (torn ACL – out for the season)
After playing in four games last year, Sapp was expected to play a major role at linebacker this season. Instead, he suffered a season-ending knee injury after playing in just game this year.
Cameron Sutton (fractured ankle - no timetable for his return)
Another All-SEC caliber player, Sutton suffered a fractured ankle against Ohio on Sept. 17 and hasn’t returned since. Sutton is projected by some as a first-round NFL Draft pick next spring, but it's unclear when he will return to the field this season.
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Darrin Kirkland Jr. (high ankle sprain - no timetable for his return)
After making the All-SEC freshman team with 66 tackles last year, the sophomore linebacker was injured against Virginia Tech in Week 2’s “Battle at Bristol.” He hasn’t played since.
Tennessee was forced to play without its leading rusher against Texas A&M, when Hurd didn’t travel with the team thanks to an indisposed injury. He returned for the Alabama game, where he proceeded to carry the ball 13 times for just 28 total yards.
Like Wiesman, McDowell suffered a head injury against Texas A&M (later diagnosed as “concussion-like symptoms") and was forced to sit out last Saturday. The Vols were missing four linebackers projected to play against the Tide; it means that Colton Jumper – a former walk-on – is currently the team’s second-leading tackler.
Malik Foreman (undisclosed injury – missed Alabama game)
Foreman made perhaps the play of the year for Tennessee, knocking a ball out of a Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams' hands and into the back of the end zone for a touchback. That led to a game-tying score for the Vols. What wasn’t discussed, however, is that Foreman was forced to miss last week’s game against Alabama.
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Alvin Kamara (knee injury – out 2-4 weeks)
On Tuesday we learned about Kamara's status after injuring his knee against Alabama. He was just one of several players removed from that game, with others being evaluated leading into the Vols’ game against South Carolina (a week from Saturday).