A.J. Green on returning punts, Aaron Murray on offense’s ‘great week,’ Marlon Brown on his progress

(Updated 4:15 p.m.)

ATHENS –- A.J. Green, Georgia’s star wide receiver, wants to add a new role to his repertoire. He wants to return punts for the Bulldogs in the fall.

“I hope they give me a chance back there,” Green said after practice Saturday. “It’d be fun.”

The coaches gave him a chance as Georgia held its fourth session of spring practice -– its first in full pads and first in Sanford Stadium.

Green was among seven players who practiced returning punts, joining Branden Smith, Brandon Boykin, Washaun Ealey, Bacarri Rambo, Carlton Thomas and Rantavious Wooten. (Actually, the punts were simulated –- thrown rather than kicked — but that sufficed for practicing returns and coverage.)

Georgia’s punt-return job is open with the graduation of Prince Miller, who had 19 of the Dogs’ 23 returns last season.

Green, who will be a junior in the fall, returned punts at Summerville (S.C.) High School. In fact, he said Saturday, he returned 12 for touchdowns. And he seems serious about reprising the role here.

“I was talking to Coach [Mark] Richt just the other day about it,” he said.

Asked if he’d have concerns of injury in the role, Green said: “Nah.  It’ll just add one little dimension to my game.”

Richt was not available for comment Saturday. He was meeting with a large delegation of high school juniors –- players the Dogs are recruiting for the 2011 signing class – after practice.

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Wide receiver Marlon Brown sustained an apparently minor shoulder injury Saturday.

“Just a little bruise,” Brown said. “I fell on it wrong.”

He said it’s day-to-day as to when he returns to practice. Georgia next practices on Tuesday.

Brown, the much-hyped recruit who caught just two passes in limited playing time as a freshman last season, said he  has a much better command of the playbook this spring than last season.

“Now I’m on full speed to my assignment,” he said.

Brown and fellow freshman receiver Wooten have improved “greatly,” quarterback Aaron Murray said.

“Both of them know the playbook almost inside and out,” Murray said. “They know where they need to be; they know where they’re going to line up, what routes [to run] and what as quarterback we’re looking for. . . They’re definitely doing a lot better.”

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Only the first 30 minutes of  practice were open to the media, but players said the three quarterbacks –- Murray, Zach Mettenberger and Logan Gray –- rotated series with the No. 1 offense in 11-on-11 work.

“All three of them looked real good, especially Logan,” Green said. “You’re seeing a different side of him right now; he’s taking more a leadership [role].”

Murray said the offense “had a great week” of practice. “We’re installing things pretty fast,” he said. “We’re pretty much rapid-fire right now.”

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After the first three sessions of spring ball were held on the practice fields behind the Butts-Mehre building, players seemed excited by Saturday’s  shift to Sanford Stadium.

“It’s a whole different feeling,” tight end Orson Charles said. “I was nervous before 3-on-3 [drills]. I mean, I’m in Sanford Stadium again. I know the last time we were in there we lost [to Kentucky], so we wanted to just scratch it out of our head. Practice was real good. We got after it. And we enjoyed ourselves.”

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Richt said through a spokesman Saturday that he hasn’t yet reached a decision on how to discipline Mettenberger, including how many games the recently arrested quarterback will be suspended to start the season. Richt had said earlier that he would have a decision by the end of the week.

Mettenberger was arrested March 7 near Valdosta on five misdemeanor charges: underage consumption/possession of alcohol, disorderly conduct, obstruction and two counts of possessing false identification. UGA Athletic Association policy mandates a suspension of at least one game for an alcohol-related arrest, but Richt could impose more.

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Trinton Sturdivant was on the field Saturday, although not participating in drills. He wass wearing a brace on his left knee. Sturdivant, still rehabbing from his second ACL surgery, worked with director of sports medicine Ron Courson on the sideline. Sturdivant is expected to be back for preseason camp in August.

– With the  session the spring’s first in full pads, there were more players in green non-contact jerseys, signifying injury, than the previous practices. Among them: offensive linemen Justin Anderson (shoulder), Tanner Strickland (shoulder), Austin Long (back) and Sturdivant.

– Also watching practice:  NFL-bound defensive tackle Jeff Owens. “The guys look very good,” Owens posted on Twitter. “I like the new defense!!!”

If you missed it: Dogs seeking taller cornerbacks; Grantham praises Rodney Garner.

137 comments Add your comment

quaildawg

March 20th, 2010
12:24 pm

quaildawg

March 20th, 2010
12:25 pm

Having said that I feel so gay!

trojan94

March 20th, 2010
12:34 pm

You should feel that way!

Buckhead Bulldog

March 20th, 2010
12:48 pm

Nice coverage Tim….do you live close to or in A-town? You are on it, bro’, and we LOVE it! Thanks for the updates!!!!

Paul Johnson

March 20th, 2010
12:52 pm

Why are you not covering me. I won the ACC. Please pay attention to us.

quaildawg

March 20th, 2010
12:56 pm

CTG ” we are going to put guys out there who are physical and hustle. If we do that WE ARE GOING TO BEAT YOU” Damn I love this guys sound bites and attitude!!! GATA

unweaned lil pup

March 20th, 2010
1:00 pm

Please tell me they wouldn’t truly risk AJ fielding punts.

11Dawg

March 20th, 2010
1:00 pm

AJ Green returning punts? Why don’t we just have him at Safety and play every snap of the game?

chazzo

March 20th, 2010
1:03 pm

hallelujah!!!!!!! to a taller backfield. Now for 220 plus tailbacks….

Hey, thanks for the insight. This is reporting. Much more pertinent than the glove thing.

mike on lake hartwell

March 20th, 2010
1:15 pm

sounds good so far. GO DAWGS!

btw, happy 40th to SALITA!

PJ

March 20th, 2010
1:23 pm

Unless Logan makes the switch, I’d disagree with any WR returning punts.

jughead brown

March 20th, 2010
1:24 pm

good to see Coach Richt using playmakers for special teams.

Green, Smith, Wooten, and Ealey are all Parade All-Americans. These 4, along with Boykin, are big-time playmakers. Boykin had some huge kick-off returns for td’s in 2009.

Green, Boykin, Wooten and Ealey are excellent at ball protection.

Smith’s speed is blinding, #1 ranked athlete out of high school, just needs to learn to hold on to the ball–tends to focus on speed instead of ball protection. This could be a breakout year for Branden, he could play a Percy Harvin role. He just needs to stop fumbling the ball. He’s extremely productive when he touches the ball.

Berzerk8dawg

March 20th, 2010
1:27 pm

Nice I think CMR spending more time on special teams and offense instead of having to worry about defense as much will help out alot. We have the best kickers in the nation so that is already in place. I think rotating return men might be good too (as long as they dont fumble) but boykin and smith should will probobly be the returners this year. I like how they are letting alot of guys practice returning though. AJ too (but i get scared watching him return alot more than Logan)

idiot

March 20th, 2010
1:57 pm

15th. My mommy must be so proud of me !!

jacket bracket

March 20th, 2010
2:00 pm

Jackets are the ACC CHAMPIONS, Baby, and we are going to win the NCAA’s two. Meanwhile, you doggies are playing touch football and getting ready to get your tails kicked in by the yellow & black attack again this year!!! Go Jackets!

Paul Johnson

March 20th, 2010
2:11 pm

Jacket bracket is not a tech fan. Two means 2 and no tech fan would be so ignorant. I hate the Dawgs, they beat me when I am great and they are bad even on my home field.

daino

March 20th, 2010
2:59 pm

Hellllll Nooooo! He couldn’t even stay healthy at receiver last year!

PTC DAWG

March 20th, 2010
2:59 pm

NIce to see the GT fans care…good luck vs Ohio State…..

daino

March 20th, 2010
3:07 pm

I think that Carlton Thomas should end up returning punts or kicks. He’s suppose to be so good when he has the space, and he seems to be wowing everybody in practice. It’s just wasting his talent by sitting him on the bench. He seemed to use the most out of his very limited caries last year.

crazy dawg

March 20th, 2010
3:36 pm

I have no doubt that A J Green would do a great job as a punt returner,but is it worth the risk? Why not use get more use out of Carlton Thomas he is elusive in the open field and to good of a player not to be used more. I would also like to move him to a slot receiver and give the receiving corps a little more depth and a possible big play maker.

goatD

March 20th, 2010
3:41 pm

Dawgs are great! We’ll get a BCS bowl bid AND an NCAA tournament invite next year. You just wait and see………….

LOWNDES COUNTY

March 20th, 2010
3:43 pm

SAVE THE CONFEDERATE FLAG AND PUT THEM GAYTORS IN THE DIRT. AJ JUST STAY HEALTHY!!!!!!!!!!!!

oledawg

March 20th, 2010
3:46 pm

I would imagine that if Green did punt returns we would have full analysis of other team’s punting capabilities. If they are pooch kickers and can drop the ball on or inside the 10 effectively he probably won’t be there. If we have them pinned inside their 20, then let’s watch AJ run along with a few others. He’s good at cutting and dodging and has great speed. If he wants to then I think he should get some shots. For you worry warts just remember that he blocked a kick on defense last year and has appeared briefly in other spots. No one wants a player going down while playing another position, but who’s to say when anything disastrous can happen? Remember, you can always cut down on injury possibilities by playing him half the time. Yeah. Now is the worry picture in proper focus for you? Hope so. Hope none of that low playing time idea gets into any player’s head. He’d be saving himself for the Pros instead of doing everything he can to win one for the team.

Remember, you can’t spell jteam without AJ.

dawgfan

March 20th, 2010
4:01 pm

Oh good lord. AJ Green is not going to return punts. Knowshon was supposed to return punts in ‘08 too. How long did that last, a week maybe? Get real people. Its spring practice. They are just experimenting. We have too many capable guys to get the job done to have our most talented player out there risking life and limb. He won’t return a single punt in a live game.

Green doesn’t seem like a prototypical punt retuner to me. He’s too tall and lanky. Punt returners are small, quick, and agile. Its more about elusiveness than pure speed.

God I hate the off season. This is the kind of crap that people talk about in the off season. What a waste of time. Bring on the games.

You all are welcome by the way.

Tal E. Bahn

March 20th, 2010
4:09 pm

The reason AJ couldn’t stay healthy last year is because he had to make circus catches every time the ball was thrown to him. Had the ball been thrown accurately he would have hauled the majority of them in for long gains and/or TD’s…just sayin

Stinger

March 20th, 2010
4:21 pm

Richt to announce decision on Mett sometime around Dec. 2014. Coach Richt has worked hard to improve his image of being a non disciplinarian.

Stinger

March 20th, 2010
4:24 pm

It really doesn’t matter if Green returns punts or not. I doubt seriously that we will have to punt against you this fall.

G

March 20th, 2010
4:38 pm

No way horrible idea

AJ for Hesiman

March 20th, 2010
4:38 pm

Desmond Howard won the Heisman by scoring 138 points in one season.

Tim Brown won it by gaining 2000 all-purpose yards.

So if AJ wants to finish big and get drafted high in the NFL, he needs to put up some big points or yards, or both.

He’ll also need to pay closer attention to his body, and learn how to take a hit properly, and how to fall properly. Off-season conditioning will help a lot there. AJ has the ability, but does he have the BELIEF?

Frank Lane

March 20th, 2010
4:40 pm

Every punt return should be threat. Need to get 4-5 breakaway threats and use on each punt the one who is most fresh.

AJ for Hesiman

March 20th, 2010
4:45 pm

Teams will start to punt away if Green returns a few for td’s. I’d put him in for the South Carolina game. But that gives Georgia great field position. Load the field with the playmakers on special teams.

It’s be cool if aj:
1- Blocked 2 kicks
2- Returned 3 punts for td’s
3- Scored 15 td’s receiving

The guy returned 12 punts for td’s in high school, he’s a natural punt returner.

2010 Looking Good for UGA

March 20th, 2010
5:01 pm

As Ealey and the O-Line gets loose in the running game, teams will bring extra guys into the box to try and stop the run. Then we hit AJ Green deep. Then we go back to pounding with Ealey. If they double Green, we hit Wooten or throw to our TE’s. If they pack guys inside to stop Ealey, we run Smith or Green or Wooten to the outside. Green plays his best the bigger the game–like the LSU game last year. He’s also impossible to cover in the red zone with his vertical and height. Georgia’s going to be impossible to stop in 2010.

poopdawg

March 20th, 2010
5:16 pm

AJ just wants to help this team win anyway he can , not a selfish bone in his body. But Carlton Thomas should get the 1st look . DBS sure like to get their hands on the ball anyway they can but the fatigue factor plays a negative role for them late in the game. Maybe this year UGA will make sure the other team punts before they start the punt return blocking. I understand the time factor but how does throwing the dang ball simulate a punt?

michael thomas

March 20th, 2010
5:29 pm

You guys with the first thing need to grow up and get a dam JOB.Way to go DAWGS , looks like another good practice.

Gator Special Teams

March 20th, 2010
5:41 pm

Please let him return punts this season!!

GoDOGS1

March 20th, 2010
5:56 pm

Who care about the Gators….soooo last decade!

jack

March 20th, 2010
6:23 pm

What QB race? Murray’s the man. Call him greeney with better legs! Good to here about wooten and brown. Both are gonna come on strong this year. Lets keep the o-line healthy and we’ll have the best offense in the conference.

CatsFly

March 20th, 2010
6:46 pm

While not making the NCAA tournament, UNC bb still holds on to most valuable bb program in NCAA, up 12% over last year. Heels are only true national bb team.

Birrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd Man

March 20th, 2010
6:47 pm

No! No! No! Do not let A. J. return punts.

Dawg On It

March 20th, 2010
7:24 pm

Delbert D.

March 20th, 2010
8:23 pm

Not a good idea. Green is great running away from guys, not at them. Somebody might break him in half.

G

March 20th, 2010
9:16 pm

He is way to valuable of a reciever and has been injured most of his time in Athens to put back there. He’s put up monster numbers while injured let’s see if we can enjoy Aj for the whole year! Would love to see C Thomas be a return specialist as well as change of pace back.

G

March 20th, 2010
9:17 pm

T King and Woot could get the job done as well

Tdawg

March 20th, 2010
9:20 pm

What daino said, but stating a little more vehemently. Hellllllll Noooooo. No, Nada, Um Um, not gonna happen,don’t want to hear it. Did I say No? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Leadership?

March 20th, 2010
9:25 pm

Come on AJ focus on getting stronger and being the best wr in the country , not punts.

The Real SugarHillDawg

March 20th, 2010
9:49 pm

Murray has to grow up QUICK!He has to be able to it passes when there is 8 in the box.

sandiego

March 20th, 2010
10:03 pm

what’s the deal w/ Dontavious Jackson? He looked good in open space and then they shut him down

Top Dawg

March 20th, 2010
10:07 pm

Stinger correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t y’all just get beat in your joke of a stadium by the Dawgs WITHOUT A.J. Green on the field catching passes, blocking kicks, OR returning punts. So if I were you I wouldn’t be so concerned with Georgia’s recieveing cops, I’d be worried about how I can find a number one reciever that won’t drop the ball with on 4th down. GO DAWGS!!!!

Gators!

March 20th, 2010
10:22 pm

GoDOGS1…I think you meant to say soooo last TWO decades. But don’t worry…no matter how old or passe it seems to get…we’ll always be your Daddy!!

[...] (UPDATE: For a report on Saturday’s practice, please click here.) [...]