ATHENS – Injuries have hit hard at inside linebacker for Georgia.
Four players at the position were sidelined from practice Wednesday: Akeem Dent (toe surgery last month), Marcus Dowtin (scrapes from a minor scooter accident, according to coach Mark Richt), Richard Samuel (unspecified leg injury) and Mike Gilliard (unknown injury).
No position moves are planned to shore up the position, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said after Wednesday’s practice, because none of the injuries are long-term.
“They are injuries that are a nuisance right now, but when you look at status for the first game, [the players] are probable,” Grantham said. “Because no one is out for the year or expected to miss games, I think we just stay the course.”
Samuel is expected to miss a week or two, and that “hurts him a lot,” Grantham said. “Just because he’s young as a linebacker anyway, and he basically needs reps. . . . Anytime you miss an opportunity for that, it’s going to slow you down a little bit.”
Might the missed time increase the chances of Georgia redshirting Samuel, the converted tailback, as he adjusts to defense?
“I think we’ve still got a ways to go with that,” Grantham said. “How soon he would get ready could indicate what we would do. But right now I would still plan on using him and just see how he can come along.”
Georgia currently has only three scholarship players practicing at inside linebacker: redshirt sophomore Christian Robinson, a projected starter who Grantham said “is having a great camp”; senior Akeem Hebron, who had a scrimmage-high six tackles Tuesday; and freshman Demetre Baker.
Cornerback Branden Smith was absent from practice again Wednesday. He is not expected to rejoin the team until, or unless, he is cleared academically for fall semester.
Jordan Love and Sanders Commings are getting more reps at cornerback with Smith out, secondary coach Scott Lakatos said.
Lakatos on Smith’s absence: “Any time you’re missing one of your players, it’s disappointing. But whatever he’s doing –- and I don’t know any more than you guys –- I just hope everything works out and we get him back.”