(Updated 9:15 p.m.)
ATHENS — The hamstring injury that has kept tailback Washaun Ealey on the sideline for most of Georgia’s spring practice also figures to keep him out of Saturday’s G-Day game.
“I don’t think Washaun will go,” coach Mark Richt said Thursday.
Ealey had expected to return to practice this week, but Richt said that proved overly optimistic.
“Washaun has never had a hamstring injury before,” Richt said. “What happens a lot of times is, you feel good enough to walk at your normal gait and . . . you might even be able to jog. But when you truly go full speed or compete or go through a practice where you begin to fatigue, then you’re getting close to pulling it again. Guys don’t realize it, but once they feel like they’re ready, it’s usually another week to 10 days before you can really go if it was a pretty significant pull, which [Ealey's] was.”
Ealey was on the field Thursday, but not in shoulder pads, as the Bulldogs went through their final practice before G-Day. He has been sidelined for 10 of Georgia’s 14 practices, including both of its scrimmages, so far this spring.
The G-Day game will be the last chance for the Bulldogs’ other tailbacks to make an impression before the arrival this summer of prized recruit Isaiah Crowell, who is expected to immediately compete for the starting job.
Veteran tailbacks Caleb King and Carlton Thomas are on the “Red” team for G-Day, while Ken Malcome and walk-on Brandon Harton figure to get most of the carries for the “Black” team.
Malcome, who was redshirted as a freshman last season, missed last week’s scrimmage with a nagging groin injury. But he has practiced this week and should be available Saturday, Richt said.
Richt estimated that at least 10 players will miss G-Day because of injuries, although coaches are awaiting word on some others from head trainer Ron Courson.
The defensive backfield, which has been particularly hard hit by injuries, could have five players out of action Saturday.
Safety Bacarri Rambo won’t play because of a sprained knee ligament, and cornerback-safety Sanders Commings (concussion), safety Jakar Hamilton (concussion) and cornerback Jordan Love (hamstring) aren’t expected to play. Cornerback Brandon Boykin’s status is “kind of iffy,” said Richt, who added: “We’re leaning toward him not going right now.”
Fans at G-Day should be able to see Alec Ogletree at his new position, though. Moved from safety to inside linebacker at the start of spring practice, Ogletree was back at practice Thursday after missing several sessions with a strained groin.
Geathers and Jenkins
Kwame Geathers‘ strong spring at nose guard has defensive coordinator Todd Grantham thinking about potentially playing Geathers and John Jenkins, the prized junior-college nose guard who will join the Bulldogs this summer, together on the defensive line.
Geathers is listed at 350 pounds, and Jenkins is up to 361, according to defensive line coach Rodney Garner.
If Georgia wants both in the game, could one of them play end?
“There ain’t a rule against it,” Grantham said. “You’ve got to find a way to play your best players. It’s not always going to be maybe the perfect scenario.”
Grantham also said: “There’s nothing etched in stone those two guys have to be noses. We’ll see how it goes. We’ve got a couple of different packages.”
Garner said Geathers has made “a lot of improvement” since last fall. “He’s using his hands much better than he did last year and playing stouter,” Garner said.
Geathers’ progress — and Jenkins’ impending arrival — freed DeAngelo Tyson to move from nose guard to defensive end, where he is thriving. Tyson “has shown dramatic improvement” this spring, said Garner, who also has been pleased with the play of Abry Jones at the other end position.
Offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant, who underwent surgery this week on a torn right ACL, faces his third round of rehabilitation from major knee surgeries.
“Knowing you’ve got to go through that rehab is no fun, and not being certain where you go next, so to speak, is tough on him right now,” Richt said. “The goal for all of us is to rally around him and encourage him and help him rehab . . . and then also help him go wherever he chooses to go because he does still have options of what he can do.”
Options include applying for a sixth year of eligibility in 2012 if he misses the entire 2011 season.
– Tim Tucker, AJC