ATHENS - After Wednesday's practice, Austin Long was shown a copy of Georgia's official injury report.
"I like seeing my name not on there," he said, smiling.
The junior rattled off the injuries he's had since he arrived in college: Two back surgeries, an ankle, and a staph infection.
"That's it," Long said. "Maybe."
Maybe it runs in the family: His brother Hunter Long, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman broke his foot early in the preseason. Hunter ruefully asked his older brother if there was a new family injury curse. But for now Austin Long is healthy, and poised to receive the first significant playing time of his Bulldog career.
Long has been working first-team right tackle this week, where he could start if John Theus and Watts Dantzler can't go. Theus and Dantzler are both battling ankle injuries, and Theus seems likely to at least make the trip to Missouri.
But if he can't start, then Long is most likely next in line, which would mean his first college start would come in quite an important game.
"That's would be a big one. That would be a big deal," Long said. "I've been waiting three years to do it, so I think to start that game would be pretty awesome."
During preseason camp, Long was on the outside looking in: Offensive line coach Will Friend declared early that he had six players he was confident in, and Long wasn't one of them. Behind the scenes, Friend was telling Long the same thing, and
"He makes sure we all know where we're at with him, as far as who's the starting five, the sixth man and everything. He does a good job with that. He's straightforward, and if something changes he'll tell us every day."
These days, he's telling Long to get ready to play.