Kirby Smart provides injury updates on Day 1 of Georgia’s preseason camp

Georgia defensive back Tykee Smith (23) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Oct. 4 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

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Georgia defensive back Tykee Smith (23) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Monday, Oct. 4 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

On Day 1 of Georgia’s preseason camp, coach Kirby Smart provided a handful of injury updates.

The first was regarding freshman inside linebacker E.J. Lightsey, who Smart said is dealing with a knee issue. It’s not related to the gunshot wounds Lightsey sustained in a Feb. 21 shooting in his hometown of Fitzgerald.

“E.J. has been dealing with a little bit of a knee issue, not related to anything before he got here, just from being here, but he’s clear, he’s working with us now,” Smart said Thursday. “He’s missed some summer training and conditioning time, but he’s with us now and clear to go.”

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Smart had some encouraging news on junior defensive back Tykee Smith, who last year recovered from a broken foot only to tear his ACL upon his midseason return.

Although Smith isn’t 100%, he’s participating in drills without limitation.

“Tykee’s out there repping, doing things, I wouldn’t say he’s 100%, but he’s doing everything we’ve asked him to do,” Smart said. “May not be completely clear for live tackle just yet, that’ll be up to (director of sports medicine Ron Courson) and how comfortable he feels with or without his brace. It’s gaining confidence in those things. But he’s doing all the drills without limitation. But with every ACL, just because you’re doing it without limitation doesn’t put you where you were. You have to gain confidence in that, you have to get back in playing shape. It’s different.”

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Junior tight end Darnell Washington, who dealt with a lower leg injury in the spring, is “in a good spot,” Smart said.

“I gave Darnell a lot of credit,” Smart said. “He’s worked tremendously hard putting himself in the best health possible. When he got injured, which I think was over spring break, going into spring practice, we thought he was in the best shape he had been in since being here, both body fat composition, body weight, conditioning level. I mean, he was really running well in our offseason conditioning program, and we were looking forward to spring. He reinjured his foot. And from there, he couldn’t train the same and he couldn’t do the same things. And he’s really in a good spot.

“You know, he’s a guy that I came in on Sunday, and he’s out there running on his own on a day that was off. He’s got a purpose. He’s practicing to be driven. And excited to see, you know, what he can do. It’s going to be important that we get him in good, physical conditioning shape to be good to go in this training camp.”

Sophomore Tate Ratledge, who was the starter at right guard before suffering a season-ending foot injury in last season’s opener vs. Clemson, has been doing great, per Smart, but faces a challenge as activity increases during fall camp.

“He’s worked really hard at his conditioning,” Smart said. “(Courson) feels like he’s in a position where what we did in summer training would have been tougher on him coming off the injury than actual football practice. So the football practice piece should relieve some of that. Now, the strain and effort to push off and double teams, as we put on pads, may increase that. But he’s in a good spot. He’s been rotating in with the first group and the second group.

“I do think there is a matter of coming back where you haven’t, you know, passed off or twist, you haven’t passed off a stunt. There’s some quick back guys inside that he’s going to take some reps to get that back. But certainly feel good about where he is and his toughness.”