ATHENS - Mark Richt doesn't usually criticize players through the media. That's why it came as a bit of a surprise to hear the Georgia head coach say this on Saturday about tight end Jay Rome:
“I don’t think Jay has practiced as hard as he needs to really become a great player. He’s learning. He’s like a lot of young guys, you’ve gotta learn the tempo and what it takes. So he’s just got to make sure that every day he comes to work to get better at everything he does."
Richt also said that Rome, a redshirt freshman, is performing better as a receiver than a blocker. Rome hasn't actually mastered route-running and ball-catching yet, according to Richt, but he knows fans have seen Rome's receiving abilities in action: The spring game, when he had two catches for 73 yards, and the stats reported from recent scrimmages.
Rome was a highly-rated recruit last year out of Valdosta High School. He redshirted in 2011, because of the veteran talent ahead of him. This year the 6-foot-6, 254-pound Rome is expected to team with junior Arthur Lynch.
But Rome clearly has a ways to go in the eyes of his head coach.
"He’s got ability. But it’s gotta be an every-day, every-play kind of thing to get to the point where he can master his position," Richt said. "He’s got a ways to go. But like I said, he’s young. It’s somewhat understandable. But we’re counting on him to get ready to play.”
Washington works at OLB
Cornelius Washington was with the outside linebackers during the early portion of Saturday's practice, when the Bulldogs work in position groups. That was a new one this year, as Washington has been making the move to defensive end.
Richt indicated that was part of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's effort to get players ready at different positions. Washington was an outside linebacker for his first three years, and with first-teamer Chase Vasser suspended the first two games, Grantham may be preparing Washington for work at his old spot.
“We want versatility. We know that by cross-training people you create depth if you have injuries and things of that nature," Richt said. "It’s obvious now that Chase (Vasser) won’t be playing the first couple ballgames. So we’ve just gotta make sure we’ve got enough guys that know what to do at different positions. So we’re just trying to get the best 11 on there.”
The team is experimenting with different lineups among the second-team offensive lineman. Mark Beard, who has been playing guard, has gone outside, and Austin Long, who had been at left tackle, is working inside. Neither player is close to cracking the starting five yet. …
Receiver Tavarres King (lower leg strain) and Rantavious Wooten (hip strain) were out for a second straight day. Richt has said the injury doesn't appear serious.