Tennessee's Brown pushes through the pain

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

One of the unsung leaders on Tennessee's defense is fifth-year senior tackle Wes Brown.

He's been an inspiration with the way he's fought through throbbing pain in both knees. Not only did he slide inside to tackle this season from end for the good of the team, but he's been a shining example of what staying the course is all about.

Brown is hurting, and that's obvious. It was all he could do to finish Wednesday's practice, but he did.

"It's been a struggle, but my team deserves it," said Brown, who's had two surgeries on his knees in the past eight months. "This is my last year, so I want to get out there and have a good last year. It's going to be tough. I know there's going to be days when I'm going to be more sore than others, but I'm not done yet.

"I'm going to keep playing until the good Lord tells me I can't. I'm taking it day by day."

The reality is that the Vols will have to be pretty selective with Brown if they want to have him for the whole season. He's simply not going to be able to take the pounding day after day and play after play for the next four months.

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin likened him to a 12-year NFL veteran and acknowledged that's the way they would probably treat him.

"We've really got to make sure we're getting the right stuff out of him and not overworking him," Kiffin said.

The Vols are already thin at tackle. If you take Brown out of the equation, it really gets scary.

This is a huge preseason camp for 6-foot-4, 312-pound redshirt freshman Montori Hughes, who was one of the stars of the spring. And more than ever, Tennessee needs incoming freshman Marlon Walls to get eligible.