A week into fall camp, one of Tennessee's few returning starters on defense is injured.

Senior defensive tackle Malik Jackson sprained his right knee and will be out "only a couple of weeks," according to UT coach Derek Dooley on Friday.

With Jackson out, along with linebacker Herman Lathers who's sidelined with a broken foot, the Vols won't have a returning starter from last season's front seven, a point Dooley joked about possibly being a good thing.

"We are now zero out of seven, that's right," he said. "But we weren't very good in the front seven last year, so some people would say that's the best news we've had all season. Think about it. You heard that saying, 'The good news is we've got everybody back.' The bad news is we've got everybody back.

"The bad news is we've got zero out of seven, the good news is we've got zero out of seven. No, we want Malik back, and we want Herman back. We want two out of seven."

While losing Jackson for most of fall camp is a blow to a defense that has so many question marks right now, Dooley wants the team to spin it into a positive.

"Probably the most important thing we can do is learn how to endure and overcome adversity when it hits us, whether it's in a game, in a practice or every day," he said. "And that's a sign of a real mature football team. That's going to be a real challenge for this team being so young that when bad things happen, how do we handle it?"

One player who has matured this off-season is sophomore wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers.

"As a human, as a person, I've matured a lot," he said. "I've buckled down with school and just life in general. Like Coach Dooley said, the attitude outside shows a lot on the in-here. So when I have a good attitude out there and things are clicking, I roll in here and it's just I'm playing football."

Rogers said he and fellow sophomore receiver Justin Hunter needed to take on bigger roles as leaders on the team this year now that both of them are starters.

"It's not just getting serious and making it a business about us," Rogers said. "We've got to get serious and make it a business about the rest of our team as well. Everybody wants to try and go to that next level so I feel like as a team, us young guys, we're not giving our seniors our all if we're not buckling down and getting serious. Just little things like sitting in the front of special teams meetings. Last year, as a freshman, you sit in the back but nowadays you've got to step up 'cause we're leaders now."