Slowly but surely, Georgia's walking wounded are returning to the practice field.
Monday, linebackers Akeem Dent (foot) and Richard Samuel (leg) were back participating in non-contact drills for the first time since their leg injuries and looking more and more like they'll be ready for the season-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette after all.
The good news apparently doesn't end there.
According to head coach Mark Richt, the Bulldogs are quickly getting back to full strength and barring any more setbacks could be as healthy for the first game as they have been in several years.
"A lot of the guys that have been hurt are beginning to trickle their way back onto the field, which is good," Richt said after practice Monday. "I hate that they missed the time, but I also know that other guys got an opportunity to get work and get reps which probably helped create a little more depth on our team. I don't know if we've gotten the continuity we need, especially offensively, but hopefully there's still time to do that."
Offensive line starters Ben Jones (knee) and Cordy Glenn (mononucleosis) were at least back on the field, although both were in non-contact jerseys and still a few days away from resuming full drills. Jones spent most of practice on a conditioning run, while Glenn rode one of the stationary bikes under the watchful eye of team trainer Ron Courson.
Richt said Jones will definitely be back to practice next week. Glenn is expected back as well.
Others who should return over the course of the next week include wide receiver Logan Gray (ankle), cornerback Vance Cuff (bruise), cornerback Sanders Commings and defensive end Demarcus Dobbs who sprained an ankle Saturday morning. Richt said the sprain isn't a serious one, however, and the Savannah native is expected back later this week.
The news isn't quite so good for redshirt freshman center Chris Burnette who suffered a concussion and freshman outside linebacker Dexter Morant who has an injured shoulder. Richt had no timeline for their return.
Junior offensive guard Tanner Strickland is also nursing a sore shoulder which has limited his practice time.
Temperatures pick back up
With the first three games set for early afternoon, Richt has been hoping the temperatures for practice would begin picking up.
Monday, they did just that as temperatures moved into the 90s again for the first time in several days.
"It was hotter today," Richt said. "The guys had to push through it. Most of them did just that. We're getting done what we need to get done. ... It's good when it's hot. It looks like it will be hot all week, and I'm glad about that. I hope it's hot next week, too."
Richt was asked if this felt like a bye week since the Bulldogs will be in game mode next week.
"Yeah, a long bye week," he said. "It's time to play a game. I'm glad we're blending in some scout work. Everybody is ready to play. It's been a long camp, but we've gotten a lot out of it."
Richt pleased with wide receiver corps
Richt said he's happy with what he's seen from Georgia's wide receiver corps.
Junior A.J. Green is having the best preseason of his Bulldog career, but according to Richt, he's not the only one.
"I think Tavarres (King) is ready and is playing extremely well. I've seen him make tremendous improvement from the spring. We're all starting to gain a lot of confidence in Marlon Brown, too," Richt said. "Having (Kris) Durham back has been great because we know he can play while Logan (Gray) has made tremendous progress before he got hurt. Everyone of these kids can function and know what to do. Even (Israel) Troupe when he's had the opportunity has done well. (Michael) Bennett's the farthest away - which he should be - but he's shown signs that he's going to be a good player for us one day. (Rantavious) Wooten has missed a lot of time and that hasn't helped, but we're hoping he comes back soon."
Richt said Bennett is one of this year's freshman class that is being considered for a redshirt year.
This and that
Richt said he anticipates he and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will make a decision soon as to whether or not true freshman quarterback Hutson Mason will get to play this fall.
Richt said senior Kiante Tripp has "found a good home" on the defensive line.
The Bulldogs will return to the practice field Tuesday before Wednesday's practice game at Sanford Stadium. Georgia will hold a kicking practice Thursday.
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