No. 1 Georgia ‘hopeful’ key players return for Missouri game

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

ATHENS — For all the world, it looked like Kenny McIntosh had suffered the worst of fates for running backs last weekend. Yet, there he stood Monday, taking questions from reporters at Georgia’s weekly media day availability and clearly set to play against Missouri on Saturday.

“I’ll be fine,” the senior running back said. “A lot of ice baths ahead of me, that’s all. I’ll be straight.”

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Late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Kent State, McIntosh took a handoff in the backfield and squeezed into a skinny hole at right guard. He managed to get through for a 5-yard gain. But at the end of it came a white blur.

The blur was Golden Flashes’ 6-foot-3, 215-pound rover Nico Bolden, who came in diving low from the right side of the defense. He crashed headlong into the side of McIntosh’s left leg. McIntosh popped up but quickly hobbled to the Georgia sideline. Obviously injured, he was met there by two trainers, who positioned themselves under each arm and hustled McIntosh into the privacy of the sideline medical tent. From there, he was ushered into the locker room for further study.

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The good news: McIntosh’s knee is fine. The bad news is he took a direct shot on a preexisting thigh bruise.

“He got hit on that same spot but feels like he’ll be fine,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He was fine after the game; he was fine yesterday. We may limit him some (in Monday’s practice) but feel good about Kenny being able to go.”

Said McIntosh: “It’s been nagging me a little bit, but he just got a clean shot on it. That’s all it was, just a little bruise.”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

That’s good news for a Bulldogs team that, heading into the fifth game of the season, has mounting injury issues. All-star tackle Jalen Carter (ankle) did not play a defensive snap against Kent State. Starting split end A.D. Mitchell (ankle) also was sidelined in Georgia’s 39-22 victory.

Smart said he is “hopeful” both players will be available to play against the Tigers.

Interestingly, Smart said wideout Arian Smith probably is “a little bit ahead” of Mitchell. The speedy redshirt sophomore from Lakeland, Fla., has been out since suffering a high-ankle sprain that required surgery in preseason camp. He dressed out for last Saturday’s game and went through warmups.

When healthy, Smith not only is the fastest player on Georgia’s team but also one of the fastest in FBS. A sprinter on the Bulldogs’ nationally ranked track team, three of Smith’s five career catches have gone for touchdowns averaging 42.3 yards. His per-catch average is 37.6.

“Arian has been getting better and better and better,” Smart said. “He ran some last week. He hit some good (speed) numbers (on GPS). … He wasn’t planting and cutting last week. His pregame, we felt like he was getting in better shape. He was able to do more in practice last week, but he wasn’t 100%. We’ll find out today where he is.”

McIntosh, a senior from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is second on Georgia’s team in all-purpose yardage with 227 yards, or 81 per game. He is the Bulldogs’ receptions leader with 21 and has two rushing touchdowns.