Tennessee lineman Jacques Smith, left, and linebacker Dontavis Sapp take part in a drill Saturday in Knoxville. (AP Photo/Amy Smotherman Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel)
KNOXVILLE — Tennessee defensive end Jacques Smith has a fractured right thumb that puts his status for the start of the season in jeopardy.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones said Wednesday night that Smith had surgery earlier in the day and probably would miss four to six weeks, though Jones didn’t rule out the possibility that the senior could be ready for the Aug. 31 opener against Austin Peay. Smith hurt the thumb late in practice Tuesday night.
“We’ll see how he progresses,” Jones said. “We may have him back for the Austin Peay game. That’s what we’re looking toward. He may be good to go. We’ll know a little more further details probably in about a week or so.”
Jones also said freshman defensive end Corey Vereen is undergoing an MRI on his knee, though he had no further information on that injury.
Smith and Vereen were shaping up as two of the most promising pass rushers for a Tennessee team that had just 17 sacks last season.
Smith made six starts and had 33 tackles — seven for losses — and two sacks last season. Vereen, an early enrollee, had four sacks in the spring game.
Tennessee also announced Wednesday that senior defensive back Naz Oliver and freshman walk-on offensive lineman Brett Dockery had left the team, while freshman walk-on tight end Greg Tisho has been added to the roster.