ATHENS — A week away from its season opener, Georgia’s football team practiced Saturday without one of its starting cornerbacks, its No. 1 punt returner and an occasional offensive playmaker.
Branden Smith, who is all of the above, missed the practice with a foot injury sustained in practice on Thursday.
Coach Mark Richt described Smith’s status as a day-to-day matter, but -– with the days dwindling before the season opener against Boise State -– expressed optimism he will be able to play.
“We don’t think it’s serious,” Richt said of the injury. “Nothing that would require surgery. I guess the ol’ day-by-day is the best way to describe it.”
Asked specifically if he expects Smith to play against Boise State, Richt said: “I do, yes.”
If Smith is healthy, he will join Brandon Boykin as Georgia’s starting cornerbacks, with Jordan Love the third corner in nickel packages. Richt said freshman Damian Swann would be next in line for playing time at cornerback if Smith were sidelined.
Sanders Commings, who moved from cornerback to safety late in spring practice, seems set at his new spot. “He’s our No. 1 safety right now, along with Shawn [Williams],” Richt said.
That officially confirmed what had become apparent on the practice field –- that Bacarri Rambo, who started all 13 games last season, isn’t currently a first-team safety. Richt said only that Rambo “has done well” in preseason.
Richt indicated kickoff returner Boykin also would handle punt returns if Smith isn’t able to go. Swann and fellow freshman Malcolm Mitchell would be the next options to return punts, Richt said.
Trip to the Dome
The Bulldogs were back on the Woodruff Practice Fields on Saturday after busing to the Georgia Dome, site of the opening game, for a closed practice Friday.
“I wanted them to just get in there and get a little taste of it,” Richt said.
They even broke out the Nike pro-combat uniforms they’ll wear for the game against Boise State.
“The first time they put them on, I figured they’d be primping a little bit, maybe be a little too focused on the uniform rather than the game,” Richt said. “So I was trying to get [that] out of the way so they could get over that. And when we go play next week, we won’t have to worry about taking pictures or looking in the mirror.”
Linebacker Alec Ogletree said the trip to the Dome was beneficial.
“We got in there and got to go in the locker room and … learn how to run on the field and stuff,” Ogletree said Saturday. “A lot of the guys have never played in the Dome or even been to it, so [the trip] took off some of the edge that we had about being excited about the Dome and just got us back to playing football.”
Jenkins still out
Nose guard John Jenkins, the much-touted junior-college transfer, remained sidelined with a hamstring injury Saturday.
“He’s still not ready,” Richt said. “I’m hoping Monday. . . . It’s not 100 percent he’ll be back Monday, but we’re hopeful.”
Kwame Geathers is slated to start at the nose against Boise.
Richt expects wide receiver Marlon Brown, sidelined for several days with an ankle injury, to return to practice Monday. . . Tailback Richard Samuel practiced Saturday and continues to work his way back from a quadriceps injury. “He’s getting there,” Richt said. “I wouldn’t say he’s full speed.” . . . The team has Sunday off. . . . Monday’s practice is scheduled to be the Bulldogs’ last in full pads before the opener.