Bulldogs waiting for Jenkins to get healthy

semerson@macon.comAugust 25, 2011 

ATHENS -- John Jenkins isn’t in any danger of not playing in Georgia’s opener next week. Still, it sure sounds like his position coach is antsy for the nose tackle, heralded as one of the team’s top recruits, to get back on the practice field.

Jenkins has missed the past few days with a mild hamstring injury and also left the preseason’s first practice with heat exhaustion. In the meantime, redshirt sophomore Kwame Geathers grabbed the starting nose tackle job.

“It’s hard to make the team in the training room. You can’t make the club in the tub,” Bulldogs defensive line coach Rodney Garner said. “Whenever John gets back out there, we’ll see where he is. Hopefully he is trying to take the time while he’s not practicing to learn his stuff and become more knowledgeable with the system.”

When Jenkins signed, it was with the idea that the 6-foot-4, 340-pounder could be the answer to the team’s lack of a big, physical nose guard. He still could, but for the moment Geathers, who appeared in eight games last year as a freshman, is firmly ahead of Jenkins.

“I think my comment (when Jenkins signed) was he would make an immediate impact,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “I think that impact was he did make it, because I think you saw guys work hard, compete.”

Grantham also said Jenkins -- when he has been healthy -- hasn’t been a disappointment. In fact, they’ve given Jenkins some snaps at defensive end.

“You know, he’s really young,” Grantham said. “I think that we’ll continue to work with him and develop him. Rodney’s done a very good job of working him and developing him. It’s just a matter of him getting snaps. Now it’s a matter of him getting healthy and getting back out there. But really it’s just a matter of getting snaps, and he’ll be fine.”

Tailback updates

Richard Samuel continues to ease back to health, and continues to hold the first-team spot at tailback. That’s even though Isaiah Crowell has made a great impression.

“Right now, if they’re healthy, it would be Richard and then Isaiah right now,” running backs coach Bryan McClendon said, but also agreeing with a reporter’s question that it could change between now and game time.

Either way, it’s clear that both Crowell and Samuel are going to play.

“You want to keep a fresh back in the game,” McClendon said.

Brandon Harton was “a little banged up” in Wednesday’s practice game. But McClendon said that was minor.

And, according to the assistant coach, Harton remains ahead of Ken Malcome on the depth chart. Head coach Mark Richt said that could change after Wednesday’s film was reviewed.

“I still think right now the order, outside of Isaiah and Richard, it would be Brandon going in the game first, with those two,” McClendon said. “Just with his consistency, him being able to do the right things, in all phases.”

Drew still on track

Ray Drew’s scooter accident may have set him back as far as practicing. But defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Drew is still set to play against Boise State, probably rotating in for junior Cornelius Washington.

“He’ll play, and give us some depth,” Grantham said. “I think he’ll be a guy who will continue to rise as the season goes.”

Jarvis Jones is the unquestioned starter at the other outside linebacker spot. Grantham also mentioned Rueban Faloughi, Chase Vasser, T.J. Stripling and freshman Ramik Wilson as “having a spot.”

Injury updates

Fullback Bruce Figgins (hamstring), receiver Malcolm Mitchell (leg muscle injury) and receiver Marlon Brown (ankle) were held out of Friday’s practice.

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