KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Tennessee tight end Brad Cottam will miss most of the season with a left wrist injury.
The 6-foot-8 senior landed awkwardly on his left hand while trying to pull down a pass from Erik Ainge in the team's final scrimmage of the preseason Tuesday.
He was immediately taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center for X-rays and was in the operating room within hours.
Head athletic trainer Jason McVeigh described the surgery as successful, and Cottam was expected to be released from the hospital Wednesday.
``It's a tough loss for us,'' coach Phillip Fulmer said. ``I hate it for him. We'll research all the possibilities for him ... maybe even the possibility of a sixth year.''
Cottam had a career-high 14 receptions for 182 yards last season, and his 45-yard reception at Vanderbilt last season was the longest by a Tennessee tight end since Jason Witten ran for 48 yards against Arkansas in 2002.
A three-time academic All-SEC honoree, Brad Cottam graduated last spring with a degree in business studies and has begun work on a master's degree in sport studies.
Cottam was expected to be a strong part in Tennessee's offense - one with little experience at wide receiver and questions at tailback - along with fellow senior tight end Chris Brown. Brown is the team's top returning receiver with 31 catches for 235 yards in 2006.
``You hate to see it for the team, but more so for him,'' Ainge said of the fifth-year senior. ``There are some other guys that can play good football that are going to get their time to shine because Brad's been the starter since last season. I have all the confidence in the coaching staff in making the adjustments and that we'll be ready to go.''
Cottam's younger brother Jeff, a redshirt sophomore tight end, will move up the depth chart to replace his brother at the two-spot behind Brown.
The Vols also lost backup tight end David Holbert for the season after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during an Aug. 10 practice.

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