Mitchell expected to play against Auburn

semerson@macon.comNovember 10, 2011 

ATHENS -- Barring a setback, Malcolm Mitchell will be back on the field for Georgia on Saturday.

The freshman, who still leads the team in receiving yards despite a hamstring injury three games ago, has been running and cutting in practice and expects to play.

“I’m encouraged. (Wednesday) was a good day,” Mitchell said. “I opened up a little more. I started cutting a little more. I’m just waiting to see how it goes.”

Rather than treating it gingerly, Mitchell said he was gradually testing the hamstring to make sure it could withstand playing in a game.

“I’m testing it. If there’s a time to test it, it’s now, so I know I’m ready,” Mitchell said.

Head coach Mark Richt said he was “convinced” Mitchell will play. That would bring Georgia’s receiving corps back to almost full strength and give the Bulldogs their top downfield threat.

Fellow receiver Tavarres King said he sensed in Wednesday’s practice that Mitchell was back to full speed.

“I tapped (assistant) coach (Tony) Ball, and I was like, ‘Hey man, the boy is back,’ ” King said. “We’ve been playing well without Malcolm, and to throw him back there with us, it’s just another gem.”

Mitchell hurt the hamstring during a long pass play at Tennessee. He missed the following week’s game against Vanderbilt, then after the bye week, he tried to return for the Florida showdown.

But at that Monday’s practice he hurt the hamstring again.

“I think I took it a little too fast last time, came out trying to sprint the first day,” Mitchell said. “I re-aggravated it pretty bad.”

In Georgia’s first six games, Mitchell accounted for 25 catches and a team-high 438 yards, along with three touchdowns.

But the Bulldogs got good performances in his absence from fellow freshmen Chris Conley and Michael Bennett and junior Marlon Brown.

“All of them are good,” Mitchell said. “I’m just a little help. I ain’t too much.”

Richt and Missouri

Richt volunteered an interesting fact when asked about Missouri’s addition to the SEC. Richt interviewed at that school in 2000, before it hired Gary Pinkel and Richt took the Georgia job.

At the time, Richt was Florida State’s offensive coordinator. He said he didn’t visit the Missouri campus but interviewed “off-site.”

“My wife and I thought a lot about going to Columbia, what that city was like and what it might be like for our young family. We thought it might be a good fit for us,” Richt said. “Watching from afar, I think Coach Pinkel has done a phenomenal job there. We’re glad to have them join our league.”

Jones limited

Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, the team’s top defensive player, has been limited in practice the past few days because of an MCL sprain. But Richt said it was precautionary.

“We limited him to scout work. But he’s fine,” Richt said. “He’s better off on Wednesday this week than he was Wednesday last week and he played last week.”

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