As the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs start to prepare for their upcoming game against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday at noon, they might also get some key reinforcements back sooner rather than later.
Tykee Smith and Darnell Washington have both been out since fall camp with foot injuries. In the last few weeks, both players have progressed out of walking boots, but neither has dressed out for a game yet.
“We haven’t ruled out this weekend,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart on Monday. “They are back, they were running at the end of last week, weight-bearing, like running on their own. We’ve thought all along this would be the target—this week or next—but can’t say they’re going to be clear for this game. I’ll find out a lot more today because they’re going to be able to run, do some exercises, not necessarily be in their groups, but they’re going to be running and accelerating on their own, not just underwater in what we call the ‘Ultra G,’ where they have not 100% of their weight—They’re on 100% of their weight, so Thursday, Friday, we’re moving forward, and we’ll see where they are today.
Although freshman tight end Brock Bowers has caught the eye of fans around the SEC with his hot start, adding a healthy Washington makes Georgia’s offense even more dangerous with his versatile game. There are not many tight ends in the SEC who can block as well as Washington and be a threat in the passing game at 6-foot-7, 265 pounds.
Smith was regarded as one of the top transfers in the country after coming to Athens from West Virginia. He’s yet to make his Georgia debut but is expected to bring starting experience and playmaking to the Bulldogs’ secondary.
Aside from Washington, JT Daniels could be getting two more receivers back to full strength. Kearis Jackson did more than just return punts in last week’s victory over South Carolina, before that he was strictly limited to the punt returner role. He is currently at “90 or 95%” according to Smart. However, Dominic Blaylock is dealing with a bit of a setback.
“Well [Dominic Blaylock] is dealing with a little bit of a hamstring,” said Smart. “He had it last week, he was really close, we thought he was actually ahead of Kearis in terms of return. Then he had a little hamstring thing bother him…I guess it was early last week. He will be out there trying to go again today. Just one of those things when you haven’t been back in increased volume you have to be careful.
Blaylock has not played since 2019 after suffering a torn ACL. He has not played with JT Daniels either but certainly stood out as an impact player in his freshman season. Mixing him with Jermaine Burton, Kearis Jackson and the Georgia tight ends should give opposing defenses plenty of matchup problems.
Smart also said that reserve inside linebacker Rian Davis will miss the remainder of the season with a quad injury.
It’s important for Smart and his staff to not rush his players back too early, but facing the struggling Commodores might be an easier transition back than a surging Arkansas team that will come to Athens in two weeks.
For Smart’s full Monday remarks: