"He may be good to go. We'll probably know further details here in a week or so," Jones said.
What Jones didn't touch on was the worst-case scenario for Smith. While a four-week recovery might just barely get him back on the field for Austin-Peay, a six-week recovery would sideline him for Week Two against Western Kentucky, and perhaps even a far more crucial Week Three road game at Oregon. The following week, UT opens conference play at Florida.
Smith played last season at linebacker, but will play up front more in Jones' defensive scheme. That makes Smith's injury a blow not only to his chances of playing the season opener, but to his development in a new role, as well.
Smith underwent surgery on the thumb Wednesday.