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Thursday, March 29, 2012
Is Vols' Da'Rick Rogers in or out?

By Chris Low

Tennessee junior receiver Da’Rick Rogers was seemingly at the edge of that proverbial plank a long time ago.

Some players insist on living there, even the ones as talented as Rogers.

You watch him pull in a touchdown pass one-handed and physically manhandle the cornerback trying to cover him and remind yourself that he’s an NFL talent that any coach would fight to keep on his team.

But then you hear how much Rogers is into himself – and apparently oblivious that football is a team game that demands genuine respect for your coaches and teammates – and you’re at a loss as to how Tennessee coach Derek Dooley could put up with Rogers’ nonsense as long as he has.

The latest on Rogers is that he didn’t practice Thursday and won’t return to the team until he does a few things internally required of him. Earlier this offseason, Rogers also wasn't allowed to work out with the team for a couple of weeks.

Dooley refused to call this latest deal a suspension. He rarely uses that word when talking about managing players.

“He's got some things he's got to do internally, and when he does them, he'll be back," Dooley told reporters following practice Thursday. "It's kind of an internal, team issue, and it's something he's just got to finish doing some stuff, and when he does, he'll be back. I wouldn't call it anything other than he's got to do some things, and when he does, he can come back. And (if) he doesn't, he's not going to be here."

Dooley said Rogers could be back as early as today or Friday.

But at this point: Does anybody on the team really want him back?

Is his baggage worth it in what's clearly a pivotal year for Dooley in his third season on the job?

Yes, Justin Hunter is coming off a serious knee injury, and heralded junior college receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is still not on campus. But at some point, Rogers has to start pulling in the same direction as the rest of his teammates and quit being such a distraction, or it's not going to matter what he does on the field.

Given how disconnected the Vols were as a team at the end of last season, Dooley's playing with fire. The last thing he wants to do is give the impression that one player is getting special treatment or playing by his own set of rules.

There was an Internet report Thursday that Rogers was leaving Tennessee and transferring to Georgia State. He's from Calhoun, Ga. Dooley said that nobody had said anything to him about Rogers wanting to leave.

"He's never told me that or indicated that to me or anybody else," Dooley said.

Either way, Rogers is dangerously close to wearing out his welcome on Rocky Top, and some might say that he wore out that welcome a long time ago.