Key Georgia players remain sidelined for South Carolina



ATHENS -- Georgia tight end Darnell Washington and defensive back Tykee Smith aren’t expected to play against South Carolina. But they are, at least, much closer to finding themselves back on the field.

Projected starters before suffering foot injuries early in camp, Georgia coach Kirby Smart indicated they could return in the next couple of weeks.

“They are out of their (protective walking) boots and they are able to do some weight-bearing running,” Smart said during his media briefing Monday. “They will be running some this week and, like I said, I am so hopeful to get those guys back and get them back quickly.”

Both players underwent surgical procedures in mid-August to repair fractures. Smart said MRI scans taken Monday indicate an on-time return. Such procedures generally require at least four weeks to recover from. They’re now doing underwater treadmill running in Georgia’s new training room.

“They’re healing,” Smart said. “It is probably not optimistic that they will be able to play this week but we are hopeful that we will get them back soon. ... Doubtful for this week.”

There are question marks about several other players heading into Saturday’s SEC opener (7 p.m., ESPN). Smart did not provide updates on linebacker Quay Walker (unknown) or receiver Arian Smith (lower-leg contusion) after they left Saturday’s game with injuries.

Smart said that starting defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt not playing last Saturday was not injury-related. He did not, however, clarify why the 6-foot-3, 315-pound senior was held out.

Also still to be determined is the availability of wide receivers Dominick Blaylock and Kearis Jackson. Blaylock, Georgia’s starting flanker and punt returner in 2019, technically has been cleared to return from the right knee injury that has undergone two ACL repairs. But the Bulldogs are awaiting for Blaylock to declare himself mentally ready to go.

Jackson, who took over those same duties last season, still hasn’t been cleared to take receiver reps. However, he has returned punts for the Bulldogs the first two games and is averaging 15.25 yards per attempt doing that. The 6-foot, 200-pound junior had what initially was described as minor arthroscopic procedure on his left knee over the summer. But he remains in a brace heading into the season’s third week.