Bulldogs expect return of WR George Pickens

Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

ATHENS -- There is evidence of some significant players emerging from beneath the avalanche of injuries that have befallen the Georgia Bulldogs this season. Chief among them: Star wideout George Pickens.

“George practiced last week,” coach Kirby Smart said Monday. “I think he is going to be able to play. Thought he was going to be able to play last week.”

Read what you want into the second part of that statement. Officially, we know only that Pickens has an “upper-body injury,” though indications are that it’s a shoulder malady. Last week, Smart said the 6-foot-3, 190-pound sophomore should be able to play against Missouri, but that it was a “pain-tolerance” issue. That game ended up being postponed last Wednesday.

Smart said the same thing about Pickens' pain tolerance the previous week when the Bulldogs were getting ready to play Florida. Pickens did not travel with the team to Jacksonville and Georgia lost in a game that likely decided the SEC’s Eastern Division. Pickens did not play in a win over Kentucky on Oct. 26.

Pickens' absence has left Georgia’s struggling offense with a significant void at wide receiver. Already missing projected starter Dominick Blaylock to start the season, the Bulldogs then lost freshman Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint to a fracture/dislocation of his right ankle in the loss to the Gators. Meanwhile, Matt Landers (shoulder) has played hurt all season and has just two catches and Tommy Bush has been sidelined all year following an off-field accident.

With Pickens limited to just 13 catches for 140 yards in four games, the Bulldogs have relied mostly on redshirt sophomore Kearis Jackson, who leads the team with 27 catches for 396 yards and 2 touchdowns.

As for other positions, Smart also said that safety Lewis Cine has cleared concussion protocol and should be cleared to play against Mississippi State, as well as running back/kick returner Kenny McIntosh (knee).

Smart remained pessimistic about noseguard Jordan Davis (elbow) making a return. Georgia remains short-handed on the defensive front with senior Julian Rochester (knee) also out for the season.

Smart said quarterback Stetson Bennett (shoulder) has been able to return to the practice fields, but in a very limited capacity. The Bulldogs were practicing Monday for the first time since last Thursday.

“(Bennett is) getting himself back in a position that he can play and compete at a high level,” Smart said. “The hope for this week is to do the same. I won’t know exactly where he is until after practice (Monday).”