Tape It Up: Tennessee: Little Finger Is No Big Deal

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Tennessee: Little Finger Is No Big Deal

Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge broke the pinkie finger on his throwing hand this week, but that won't keep him from starting on Saturday at Cal. This is the first time the senior has broken a finger playing football, but if you're going to break one, the pinkie is a good one to choose - it probably has the least impact on a player's throwing motion, as it is usually tucked into the palm while the thumb, pointer and middle fingers grip the ball. The problem is that the pinkie is vital to the handoff process, and that's exactly how Ainge injured it on Monday, taking snaps from the center during practice.

Expect three to four weeks before the pinkie is back to 100%, whatever a pinkie accomplishes when it is at 100%, but also look for Ainge to play through this little finger pain. As a senior, he'll do everything he can to stay on the field and a broken pinkie isn't likely to stop him from keeping his starting position. Unless, of course, the handoff pain is worse than he's making it out to be.

Sophomore quarterback Jonathan Crompton is prepared to step in if Ainge pulls a Rex Grossman and finds himself unable to hold on to the snaps. Crompton played in seven games last year with one start.

Ainge set a single-season school record for pass completions in 2006, connecting on 67 percent of his attempts for 233 completions and 19 touchdowns.

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