With Smith sidelined, Green hoping to return punts vs. Vols (updated)

ATHENS — Georgia coaches are looking for ways to get the ball in A.J. Green’s hands more often, and they’re seeking a temporary replacement for Branden Smith as the punt returner.

Green would love for the coaches to address both issues simultaneously by letting him return some punts Saturday against Tennessee.

“I hope so,” he said Tuesday night. “I would love to do that, but who knows?”

Green said he has returned punts in practice this week, as have Carlton Thomas, Logan Gray and freshman Derek Owens, but Green said the coaches haven’t told him whether he’ll do so in the game Saturday.

“They said, ‘Just be ready,’” Green said.

Green lobbied for the punt-return job in the spring and summer, triggering much debate about whether the coaches should risk injury to the star wide receiver in that role. The punt-return  job ultimately was won by Smith.

Smith suffered a concussion last week against Colorado, his second in less than three weeks, and it’s not known when he’ll be able to return to action. Coach Mark Richt said Smith definitely won’t play this week and “probably not any time soon.”

Richt said Tuesday he’s not sure who will return punts against Tennessee but said all the players getting reps in practice are “certainly capable.” UPDATE: On Wednesday, Richt said Gray “more than likely” will be the primary punt returner.

By the way, Green considers his leaping, left-handed touchdown reception against Colorado last week the best catch of his Georgia career.

“I think that’s the best one by far,” he said.

In his season debut after a four-game NCAA suspension, Green caught seven passes for 119 yards and rushed for another 40 yards on an end-around. Returning an occasional punt, he figures, could be an opportunity for more playmaking.

“I just like the ball in my hands,” he said. “I feel like I can make plays. It would be nice to do that.”

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One note:

  • Tennessee returned 400 tickets from its allotment for Saturday’s game, and UGA put them on sale to the general public Tuesday.  The tickets are $70 apiece and can be purchased online (www.georgiadogs.com) or by phone (877-542-1231). Assuming they’re sold, Saturday’s game will be Georgia’s 60th consecutive home sellout. The last Georgia home game not to sell out was the Nov. 25, 2000, game against Georgia Tech. UPDATE: As of early this afternoon, Georgia had slightly more than 200 tickets remaining for the Tennessee game.

76 comments Add your comment

BMDPD

October 6th, 2010
11:20 am

BMDPD

October 6th, 2010
11:21 am

BMDPD

October 6th, 2010
11:21 am

BMDPD

October 6th, 2010
11:21 am

BMDPD

October 6th, 2010
11:22 am

I HAVE NO LIFE!!! GO DAWGS!!!

Jaydawg

October 6th, 2010
11:42 am

Looks like some of these bloggers have as much insight and competence as our coaching staff.

ICMIII

October 6th, 2010
11:45 am

BMDPD

Thanks for the chuckle.

UGANick

October 6th, 2010
11:46 am

You have to get him the ball. You can see he is that much better than any defender on the field. Bama uses Julio to return punts and kicks. It has done nothing but help and he hasn’t got hurt yet.

xl.dawg

October 6th, 2010
11:47 am

Green should do whatever it takes to payback his teammates for the four games he missed. He is a gamechanger and one more quarter in CO would have been a win. Let him return punts before he is gone after this year!

Spivedog

October 6th, 2010
11:48 am

This is a no-brainer. We need to get the ball in AJG’s hands as much as possible. Alabama does this w/ Julio Jones and that seems to work for them. Heck, put AJG in the Wildcat.

Cohutta Dawgman

October 6th, 2010
11:53 am

Don’t risk AJ getting a concussion returning punts. We need him too bad.

Still@theBAR

October 6th, 2010
11:56 am

Not sure this is a smart move on AJ Green’s part. He will be mad as hell if he gets hurt. Running away from a Dback is one thing. Running headon into a tackler at full speed is always dangerous.

run the ball

October 6th, 2010
12:04 pm

Two years ago I watched Georgia scrimmage. Stafford nor Moreno participated. There was clearly nothing wrong with either of them, however they did not play, I’m assuming to avoid injury. How could Bryan Evan become a better football player? Perhaps by practicing against better players?

How many carries did Wahsuan Ealey have in the spring game? How many carries did the Heisman Tropy winner at Bama have in their spring game?

If you’re going to lose, at least be tough. These kids don’t practice hard enough, and they don’t get better at blocking and tackeling.

Jeff

October 6th, 2010
12:07 pm

I am just hoping AJ can play an ENTIRE game for once. Enough of the talk…shut up and go play. DO YOU GUYS GET IT????????? 1-4 …JUST BACK UP ALL THAT SMACK TALK YOU GUYS DID ALL SPRING AND SUMMER

Dawg_Mike

October 6th, 2010
12:07 pm

Put the ball in AJ’s hands. Do not be afraid. What are we afraid of…losing?
w cannot do any worse…go for it.

Billy Jack....

October 6th, 2010
12:07 pm

If I was AJ I’d stick to being a WR….getting hurt on a punt return could be expensive..but it’s good that he wants to help the dawgs win you gotta like that….I can’t believe UT returned 400 tix…nuts…

Dawg_Mike

October 6th, 2010
12:10 pm

I see where Crowell is leaning toward Alabama. does anyone blame the kid?
Alabama’s offensive line opens holes for 3 and 22 to run through while our offensive line is err….offensive.
OTOH, if he goes to AL he will sit for at least 2 years.
If he comes to UGA he can play immediately….unless CMR decides to redshirt him, like he did with Knowshon.

sarcasm= you bet

Frank Lane

October 6th, 2010
12:10 pm

Green owes it to this team. Injury or not. Be a man.

Ralph

October 6th, 2010
12:20 pm

Poll: Do you think the former holders of the “Fulmer Cup” UT, or current thUGA record holder of arrests is the most undisciplined football team and will have the most number of penalties?

Dogs Smell

October 6th, 2010
12:23 pm

I hope AJ returns punts , plays QB and catches his own pass so Georgia fans can say on Sunday ” What was CMR thinking” “AJ had to be tired”!

Still@theBAR

October 6th, 2010
12:27 pm

Which Mascot gets to eat the possum as the winnner(loser of the game) in the O for in the SEC game between UGA v Tenn?

Spivedog

October 6th, 2010
12:29 pm

We cannot be worried about AJG getting hurt…the season is already lost, why play scared now? It would be different if we were about to play a meaningful game like the SECCG.

Billy Jack....

October 6th, 2010
12:32 pm

@ Dawg Mike he just returned from Bama beating Florida I’m sure that was an electric atmosphere last Saturday…hopefully he’ll change his mind, he can play early at UGA and we have put many RB’s in the League…(but we won’t have an electric atmosphere this year in the stadium) nothing that will compare to last Sat in Tusc,Al

GA Dawg in Atlanta

October 6th, 2010
12:35 pm

http://pricezack.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/alcohol-sales-through-the-rough-in-the-state-of-georgia/ great article about uga sports. a must read for dawg fans, there is also an awesome article about the braves playoff chances which has an awesome video. great stuff

Andy Coleman

October 6th, 2010
12:41 pm

Dirty Dawg

October 6th, 2010
12:55 pm

While we’re on the subject of AJ, I’d like to ask opinions on whether or not we’d like to see him return for his Senior year? I mean an argument can be made that this season has been lost because he made a stupid, selfish decision to do something he knew to be wrong. Sure the defense and the O-line have, way, underperformed, but one could argue that with him in the lineup Georgia could have overcome the mistakes made that have cost us every game we’ve lost thus far. My point is that a young man with any sense of guilt and remorse over what he has done to his teammates, his coaches and his school (LOL on that one) would at least consider staying if for no other reason than to prove that he really was remorseful and wanted to ‘make it up’ to everybody…then again I remind myself that we are simply a ‘means to an end’ and anything that keeps him from getting at that money is just a bump along the road. So AJ, prove me wrong and hang around…surely somebody’ll spring for the insurance premium in case of injury…and, by the way, if you are determined to return punts, you’re gonna need that policy this year – that is why you sold that jersey wasn’t it?

DawginLex

October 6th, 2010
1:22 pm

I’d love to see him come back for his senior year but, if money is an issue in his family, there is no way he is coming back. WR and RB have a limited shelf life in the NFL. If he came back for a senior year, he is not going to increase his draft stock.

chiefdawg

October 6th, 2010
1:24 pm

Put him in there. He can fair catch in place of Logan Gray.

DP

October 6th, 2010
1:26 pm

Of course A.J. should get a shot at returning punts. Play your best players and get the ball in the hands of your playmakers as often as possible. Julio Jones not only returns punts and kickoffs but he plays on the punt coverage team. Trent Richardson returns kickoffs and plays on the kickoff coverage team. When your star players want to play on kick coverage teams it sends a message to everybody else.

hunker down

October 6th, 2010
1:26 pm

who’s D did logan gray blow? why is he still a relevant, talentless, oft-mentioned player on offense or special teams? stumped.

down in dawg town

October 6th, 2010
1:27 pm

Play him on defense too. He has had plenty of rest the first of the season,

$70???

October 6th, 2010
1:28 pm

i’ll save the money and drown my sorrows at home

UGA Insider

October 6th, 2010
1:30 pm

A name that keeps popping up in conversations I have with other UGA Insiders is Mike Tomlin, the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He may be the only candidate that could improve the coaching staff, bring discipline and retain a strong recruiting class if the change were made early enough in the winter. McGarity will be prepared to make a move if we happen to lose to UT, AU, UF and possibly GT. So UGA fans don’t think our new AD will not have a worse-case scenario plan if we have a 4-11 season, because he is. Also, The alleged Crowell statement in which the athletic dept is checking into for validity is a real concern.

jw

October 6th, 2010
1:31 pm

can he play nose tackle too?

UGA Insider

October 6th, 2010
1:32 pm

PappyHappy

October 6th, 2010
1:34 pm

Richt is proving a point that UGA is a one or two man team! Let him return punts! The same thing may happen to him that happened to Smith, but just fear that there are too many on the team that are looking beyond their UGA days — Green is probably at the top of the list!

Mike

October 6th, 2010
1:34 pm

Mark Richt is so fearful of injuries that he has sacrificed winning thus far to keep players healthy. That cautious approach is actually what gets these kids hurt. You have to go at everything as if injuries aren’t a concern. That will help build their strength and build the confidence to be able to go at a game at full speed all while playing smart. Play him at Punt Returner CMR … he’ll be ok.

Mike

October 6th, 2010
1:36 pm

@DP … exactly. I’m tired of this scared coaching. Every game counts.

reebok

October 6th, 2010
1:40 pm

i’d let him return punts. this season is shot to heck anyway, and he won’t be coming back for his senior year, so why not get the most you can from him over the next 7 games?

Vu Du Huong

October 6th, 2010
1:47 pm

Forget buying the returned tickets. Since that was A.J.’s best catch, I’d like to instead buy the jersey he was wearing when he caught it. How much? No matter what you shake up, A.J. returning punts or the Q.B. blocking, it doesn’t matter. The “Georgia Jinx” is real. There is a way to remedy it!

mike

October 6th, 2010
1:50 pm

Pretty dumb idea. Why give this man the opportunity to get hurt. No wonder the Bulldogs are having such a bad season with ideas like this.

RealDawg

October 6th, 2010
2:03 pm

Play him. What exactly would we be saving him for? That great BCS bowl game? He got hurt last year just playing receiver. We only have a few more games with his talents. If he is a play maker, then let him make plays.

cmdawg99

October 6th, 2010
2:05 pm

AJ could pay an interum quarterback and “SELL” the fake hand off and make a screen pass to (our longest rushing play owner ) A. Murray.

cmdawg99

October 6th, 2010
2:09 pm

Time to pull out all the stops.

Big Dawg

October 6th, 2010
2:11 pm

An absolute no brainer. Best player on the entire field touching the ball as many times as possible. What took so long to figure this one out? Oh yes. We have a coaching staff that moves at light speed in making smart decisions (see the Colorado game and not throwing to AJ until the 2nd Qtr. for further proof). Flat out geniuses we’re working with here.

Bill

October 6th, 2010
2:12 pm

AJ gets injured on a kick return !! is it worth it?

Randy Moss

October 6th, 2010
2:15 pm

Trade him to the Patriots, they got an opening man……

Bigguy

October 6th, 2010
2:18 pm

Wildcat!!!!!!!

Bigguy

October 6th, 2010
2:20 pm

Try adding a leader on defense to glue these parts together.

Inthecellar

October 6th, 2010
2:21 pm

Bill

October 6th, 2010
2:12 pm
Whats it gonna hurt! The loser column!