ATHENS - Georgia's injury reports is getting smaller, with more key players getting closer to seeing the field.
Star tailback Todd Gurley and starting free safety Tray Matthews were practicing like normal on Monday, a clear sign they are set to play Saturday against Florida. Gurley practiced last week for the first time since spraining his ankle against LSU, but he was in a non-contact jersey. He shed that jersey on Monday and was in a regular one. Matthews, who has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury and only ran on the side last week, was also in a regular jersey, practicing with the rest of the secondary.
The impact of Gurley's return to practice is important for more than just his ability to carry the ball, according to fullback Quayvon Hicks, who called him the motivational "spark to our offense."
""He's like the motivation to keep us working," Hicks said. "He's like that clown (where) you may mess up on this play, but he's gonna put a smile on your face the next play and say, Don't worry about it. So not only having him out there as a running back, but having him out there as a leader."
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In more good news, Michael Bennett was also practicing with his fellow receivers, though in a green non-contact jersey. Bennett has missed the past two games after tearing his knee meniscus, but seems on track to return.
"He looked really great running his routes, catching the ball," Hicks said. "Just the Michael Bennett that everybody knows. I think he's trying to get back to where he was. In my eyes he's there, but I know he's gonna keep working to get in that shape. Because when you've been out that long and have that injury you have to work even harder."
Bennett will essentially be replacing Chris Conley, who sprained his ankle on the last play of the Vanderbilt game, and was not at practice on Monday.
But Josh Harvey-Clemons, the starting safety who injured his foot against Vanderbilt, was running on the side Monday, after missing both of last week's practices. Harvey-Clemons looked okay as he tested his ability to run, but was favoring the foot as he walked off and headed towards an exercise bike.
Freshman inside linebacker Reggie Carter, who injured his knee last week, was missing from practice. Head coach Mark Richt said Sunday it is not believed to be a season-ending injury, thought starting inside linebacker Ramik Wilson said they're making plans for Carter's absence. Carter has been the top backup.
"They're all rotating," Wilson said of freshmen Ryne Rankin, Tim Kimbrough and Johnny O'Neal. "We're gonna find the best one that can help us out. But all three of them are looking good right now."
Georgia's most recent injury report, issued last Thursday, had a season-high 24 players on it. Besides the previously-listed players, several more who missed practice or were limited last week were practicing on Monday: Center David Andrews (foot sprain), tailback J.J. Green (ankle and shoulder sprain), fullback Merritt Hall (concussion), receiver Rhett McGowan (ankle) and receiver Rantavious Wooten (hip contusion.)
One player not on the injury report the past two weeks has been receiver Jonathan Rumph, but the junior college transfer may still be slowed by a hamstring injury. Rumph could be seen kneeling down during a drill, touching the hamstring area and shaking his head. Rumph has yet to play this season, officially missing the first six games with the hamstring, and then the Vanderbilt game because of a coaches' decision that was influenced by the injury.