ATHENS - Jay Rome's progress after foot surgery is becoming an early issue to watch at Georgia preseason practice.
The junior tight end admitted Saturday that he wasn't quite 100 percent, and was "a little bit rusty." But he was also able to practice each day, including Monday, a day after having to be looked at by the athletic trainer.
Tight ends coach John Lilly seemed a bit down about Rome's progress, saying his first-teamer "hasn't practiced much," being able to go full-speed in some drills but then having to go slower or sit out others.
"It makes it hard to evaluate a guy," Lilly said. "But it's a process. We're not playing tomorrow."
It's not even a matter of Rome's surgically-repaired toe. Rome was off his feet for more than six months after the surgery, so his conditioning was affected.
"Depending on what part of practice you see him ... you have to be a little bit concerned with his conditioning and how he's going to be when we play in less than a month," Lilly said. "But if he's down it's like anything else, it gives other guys an opportunity."
Redshirt freshman Jordan Davis has been getting the most reps. Freshman Jeb Blazevich has picked up the offense very quickly, according to Lilly. And then there's Quayvon Hicks, the former fullback who is now in the H-back role (along with Blazevich). Hicks is continuing to adjust to the new position, but used the time between the spring and August very well, and Lilly seemed pleased with his progress.
"I really like his energy level out there," Lilly said. "He's a guy that other guys can kind of feed off of."
It still appears a close competition between junior Collin Barber and senior walk-on Adam Erickson for the punter job. Erickson finished last season as the main punter, after Barber suffered through an inconsistent year.
Lilly still has the punting unit under the revised special teams coaching setup.
"The great thing is you've got two guys that you feel very comfortable with," Lilly said. "They've both been in the heat of it before and both have performed well, at different times. I'm kind of excited to see how it plays out."