Tennessee's mascot, Smokey, will likely be on the field for this weekend's game against Buffalo after tearing his ACL against Cincinnati two weeks ago.
While running through the end zone during a second-half touchdown against the Bearcats, Smokey pulled up lame, favoring his back right leg. Dr. Darryl Millis, his vet, said he suffered a partial tear in his right knee and that the left is starting to go as well.
But that hasn't stopped Smokey, an 8-year-old blue-tick coonhound, from working his way back on the field. He rehabbed enough last week to make the trip to Florida and Millis is confident he'll be on the field this weekend for his traditional runs across the field pregame and during touchdowns.
"He's doing very well," Millis said. "He's pretty sound. He doesn't really have a limp at all. So, unless he has some kind of a major setback between now and Saturday, and hopefully through the rest of the season, he should be on the field."
Smokey means as much to the Tennessee faithful as any of the players, so getting him back on the field has been a top priority. He's been injected with platelet-rich plasma, done electrical stimulation on the knee and worked out on both the regular and underwater treadmills.
While Millis is hopeful Smokey will be able to finish out the season, he said it's very likely that the dog will have to have surgery at some point to repair the right knee and possibly do some preventative measures for the left. But the surgery should only require an 8-10-week recovery period and Smokey should be good as new.
"We'll rehab him the same way that a football player would rehab, with some modification, of course," Millis said. "We have a state-of-the-art rehab facility, probably the best in the world, and certainly we'll put that to use with him."
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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham.