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The seemingly unlikely return of Josh Smith

Photo: UTSports.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith has returned to practice, and should be available for Monday’s game against Georgia Tech.

That once seemed unlikely, as it was initially feared that Smith had suffered a broken collarbone in fall camp, an injury that would have sidelined him for several weeks.

But Vols head coach Butch Jones said Wednesday that Smith is returning to practice, and that he expects the fifth-year senior to be available for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta on Monday (8 p.m., ESPN).

Jones said on Aug. 21 that Smith had a collarbone injury, seeming to confirm rumors that Smith had broken his collarbone. However, Jones said just three days later that the injury was a sprained AC joint in Smith’s shoulder.

“It could be a week. It could be two weeks. It could be four weeks,” Jones said of Smith’s expected return at that point.

“He lifted weights yesterday and he could possibly be available for the game,” Jones said Wednesday. “He’s going to practice today, so that’s a good thing in and of itself just from the experience factor and the experience in our wide receiver room.”

Smith was not listed on the Vols’ projected two-deep chart released Wednesday, due to his injury. Junior Jauan Jennings is expected to start at one wide-out position, with freshman Josh Palmer or sophomore Brandon Johnson starting at the other wide receive position. Sophomore Marquez Callaway is the other wide receiver in the two-deep.

Smith started six games in 2016, catching 13 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown.

As a sophomore in 2014, Smith caught a career-high five passes for 58 yards against Oklahoma before suffering a season-ending ankle injury that forced him to redshirt.

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