Injury woes deepen in Georgia's secondary

August 20, 2013 

Georgia junior cornerback Damian Swann.


ATHENS - There was yet another new injury to report in Georgia's secondary on Tuesday, meaning this: The only fully healthy defensive back who is a clear starter is ... wait for it ... Josh Harvey-Clemons.

Yes, the guy who is suspended for the opener at Clemson on Aug. 31.

Starting cornerback Damian Swann joined the injury list with two maladies: The lone returning starter in Georgia's secondary was limited in today's practice with a hip flexor and groin strain. The other projected starting cornerback, sophomore Sheldon Dawson, was also limited with a shoulder sprain.

But those two corners were at least practicing, unlike free safety Tray Matthews, who has a strained hamstring, and strong safety Corey Moore, who has been out awhile with a sprained knee. Reserve cornerback Devin Bowman is also out with a strained hamstring.

"Well, it's not as healthy as I hoped it would be," head coach Mark Richt said after Tuesday's practice. "There's guys that are missing reps, obviously. We don't have every guy who could be getting reps getting them. That hurts us. Some guys might be ready by the time the game starts. But how many reps are they gonna get between now and then to be as ready as they could have been if they had gotten those reps.

"It's a problem, but it's football, we all know that happens in football. And everybody's got their problems, so we'll be OK."

It remains uncertain whether any of the players are in danger of missing the Clemson game. Richt said he had no idea whether Matthews would be able to return to practice in the foreseeable future.

Other players on the defense expressed optimism about the health of the secondary. Senior defensive end Garrison Smith pointed to senior walk-on Connor Norman as someone "who can play everything on this defense," and said the injury situation is largely precautionary.

"Guys are coming back every day," Smith said. "I think it's really more of a preventive thing that guys are out, rather than an injury thing. I don't think it's that they're injured to where they can't play. I think they're just trying to make sure they're 100 percent before they're all the way back."

"I feel like our guys are gonna be back soon," outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. "I don't think anybody needs to worry about that."

Douglas also hurt

One of the freshman sensations of the preseason is also on the injured list. Tailback Brendan Douglas has what the team is calling a sprained MCL in his left knee. Douglas was the team's lowest-rated recruit in the 2013 signing class but was contending for the third spot on the depth chart, behind Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

But Douglas was out for Tuesday's practice, as was fellow freshman tailback A.J. Turman, who has been out about a week with knee and ankle sprains. (The other freshman tailback, J.J. Green, apparently remains healthy.)

There was a dose of good news for Georgia: Star receiver Malcolm Mitchell, listed as having a swollen knee and being out for Monday's practice, was no longer on the team injury report.

No walk-on announcement this year

Richt has notified those walk-ons who have been awarded a scholarship, but unlike past years he declined to announce which players received them.

"I told the guys in private who got them," Richt said. "In the past I might've had a team meeting and announced it in a team meeting, and everyone cheers for those guys and they're so happy for them. But it's a tough day for some of the other guys who deserve it but didn't get that opportunity."

Last year seven players were awarded scholarships: cornerback Blake Sailors, tailback Brandon Harton, defensive back Luis Capella, fullback Merritt Hall, receiver Rhett McGowan, safety Connor Norman and linebacker Kosta Vavlas.

All but Capella are back on this year's team, and after bringing in 31 new players, Georgia didn't have scholarships available for all six.

Practice game Wednesday night

As per the normal preseason schedule, the Bulldogs will hold what they deem a practice game on Wednesday night. The first and second-teamers, and anyone expected to play on Aug. 31, will be put on one team, while the scout-teamers will put on orange helmets and simulate Clemson. It's not quite a fair fight, so Team Georgia will start at a considerable disadvantage.

"I'm thinking right now I'm gonna have Clemson with a 28-point lead going into the third quarter, and seeing if Georgia can win it," Richt said. "So stay tuned and see what happens."

Christian LeMay, the redshirt sophomore quarterback, will simulate Clemson star quarterback Tajh Boyd, along with redshirt freshman Faton Bauta, according to Richt.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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