KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — With much of Tennessee's focus this spring on improving the Volunteers' running game and putting in a new defense, quarterback Tyler Bray is working away a bit under the radar.
The quarterback still is having a good offseason.
Tennessee coaches are pleased with Bray's progress and see him becoming a more vocal leader and a better all-around quarterback.
"It's not natural for him to yell and scream," offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. "He'd rather just play football. I don't know that any of our quarterbacks are vocal, fiery, 'Let's go kill these guy's guys.'"
Bray struggled as usual in the Volunteers' first scrimmage this spring last week.
Coach Derek Dooley says he's not overly concerned about Bray's performance because the emphasis was on running the ball and the defense giving new press coverages. That affected the wide receivers who played without Justin Hunter, who was held out as he recovers from the left ACL he tore last September.
"He just didn't throw it as well as he can, and not having Justin sometimes hurt," Dooley said. "We have a lot of guys out there at receiver probably trying to do too much. I'm not that concerned about it because he's working really hard to get better."
Bray was 13 of 32 for 142 yards with one touchdown and an interception in the scrimmage.
He is hoping to return to the form he showed at the beginning of the 2011 season when Hunter was healthy and before the quarterback fractured his right thumb against Georgia in October. Bray missed five games with the injury, and even after returning in November, he struggled against Vanderbilt and Kentucky.
He finished 2011 completing 147 of 247 passes for 1,983 yards with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Bray has said he hasn't always dedicated himself to practice and film study in the past. Now in his third spring practice with the Vols, he understands what's required of him.
"I have started to look at it from a coaching standpoint," Bray said. "Last year, I was a player and wanted to get out of here. I was tired and all of that. I've realized that we actually do need to work on stuff in the areas we need improvement on."
Coaches have also been impressed with the other two quarterbacks, Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman. Worley began last season third on the depth chart, but was forced to play in four games, starting three, because of Bray's injury and Matt Simms' struggles. Peterman, like Bray and Worley, is an early enrollee.
"Peterman came in and is picking things up great," Chaney said. "Worley is acting like an older guy. He's really playing well right now."
The Vols continued to work on third-down and two-minute situations on Tuesday.
"The defense puts in more exotic blitzes, all the third-down pressures and that causes a lot of protection issues on the offense," Dooley said. "It was good work today. We're doing some more two-minute situations, which will help us. The team is having a good attitude and just carrying on from the scrimmage."
Zach Fulton practiced for the first time this spring after suffering a foot injury during winter workouts. Fulton split time with James Stone at right guard on Tuesday. Fulton has started 15 games in a row for the Vols, including all 12 last year.
Jaron Toney, who had 31 carries for 74 yards last season in a reserve role at running back, will spend the rest of the spring working in the Vols' secondary at nickelback.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
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