By Drew Edwards
Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge has a broken pinky on his throwing hand but still expects to play in Saturday’s season-opener at No. 12 California despite missing practice time.
Earlier in the day, Ainge said his finger was not broken when asked by a reporter. “I’m not concerned about being able to play and being ready to play,” Ainge said. “You never know. You’re always one play away. Anything could happen, but right now I feel confident that I’ll be ready to play.” Ainge did not throw in the portion of yesterday’s practice open to the media, but the senior said he finished Monday’s practice after initially injuring his finger and tested the finger with some light throwing before practice Tuesday.
“What I do in practice, what I did (Tuesday), what I do today and even what I’ll do tomorrow isn’t necessarily a reflection of what how it’s feeling,” Ainge said. The injury to his pinky has less of an affect on his throwing than it does his ability to grip the ball, he said.
An injury to the middle finger or index finger would be more significant because those fingers stay on the football longest, although the pinky finger does play a role in his ability to grip the football, Ainge said. UT coach Phillip Fulmer said on Wednesday's SEC teleconference that Ainge would undergo an X-ray on his finger. When asked what tests had been performed on Ainge’s finger, the quarterback deferred to Fulmer. However, Ainge still feels confident that he’ll be ready to play Saturday. “The issue is, Am I going to be able to be as effective as I need to be to win the football game?” Ainge said. “I believe that answer is yes.”