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August 9, 2008News Saturday night that backup safety Quintin Banks will be lost for six weeks due to a torn MCL put a damper on what was otherwise a satisfying first week of practice for Georgia head coach Mark Richt.
The injury occurred in the morning during the first session of two-a-days while the team was working out in full pads for the first time this preseason. "It was during an inside run drill and I think somebody got leg-whipped as a guy was trying to make a block," said Richt. "Their bodies turned sideways and Quentin kind of got caught up there."
With Banks out, his role as the top backup to free safety Reshad Jones and strong safety CJ Byrd will fall to redshirt freshman John Knox, meaning that true freshmen Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings, Nick Williams and Makiri Pugh will each get bumped up the depth chart and one or two could see action this fall. Pugh, however, is on the shelf himself. The Charlotte, N.C. native sprained an ankle Saturday is expected to miss the next week.
"You've got Rambo, and Makiri was there, you've got Nick Williams whose been a little banged up and Andrew Williams; he knows what to do," Richt said. "We've been trying to just teach Cummings nickel only but he might have to get acquainted with safety, also."
The week's news wasn't all bad for the Bulldogs.
Freshman split end A.J. Green has been the talk of the first week, particularly after Richt suggested Friday that the Summerville, S.C. freshman was potentially one of finest players he's signed in his eight years as the Georgia coach. Emerging depth on the offensive line in redshirt freshman Tanner Strickland and true freshman Cordy Glenn also gave Richt cause to smile, along with the fact that quarterback Matthew Stafford has been making most of his throws and looking very much like the player many expect to have an outstanding year.
Richt was also thrilled with his freshman class as a whole, particularly following Saturday's first workouts in full pads.
"I was very impressed with the freshmen. Their physically in very good condition, they're strong. You look at those DBs, the only one who may resemble looking a little bit skinny is Nick (Williams) but Nick is a very strong kid and a very fast kid. He likes contact," Richt said. "I'm impressed with our backs. They're talented runners, they're eager to learn, they'll try to stick their face in there in pass protection, every one of them will. We did a good job of recruiting those guys."
Richt downplayed the notion that there have been more injuries than normal this preseason, although the team's various bumps and bruises wound up stealing many of the first week's headlines. Word Friday that Knowshon Moreno was wearing a green non-contact jersey to protect a sore left shoulder sent some shockwaves through the Bulldog Nation, although both Richt and the running back later stressed it was just for precautionary reasons to protect a nagging injury suffered in high school.
Some of the other more prominent bumps and bruises occurred to wide receivers Michael Moore (hamstring), Tavarres King (ankle) Walter Hill (broken hand) and Israel Troupe (shoulder, wrist), who were initially thought would have to miss considerable time.
Saturday, Richt gave a more positive update. Hill will have a protective club put on his hand and could be back in three weeks. The news is even better for Moore and Troup, who Richt said could return early next week. Starting wide corner Prince Miller missed most of the week with a shoulder injury but should be back this week while defensive end Jarius Wynn popped an adhesion from the sports hernia surgery he underwent during the spring. He is expected back Monday. Backup Will linebacker Akeem Hebron (ankle), defensive end Brandon Wood (sprained foot) and backup guard Chris Little (undisclosed injury) each rode stationary bikes during Saturday's second session.
But injuries aside, Richt said his team accomplished most of its early goals.
"The goal the first week is to install your system and begin to observe who came to compete this season. There are a lot of guys who have in the past and unless they go backwards you're in pretty good shape," Richt said. "But there's always somebody ready to jump up and get in the race like we talked about with Tanner Strickland, he all of a sudden jumped up there and looked like he was ready to play some ball. There are a lot of guys who have kind of sprouted up there like that. Overall, it's been a good week."
Georgia takes Sunday off before returning for a second day of two-a-days Monday which will include a scrimmage at Sanford Stadium in the evening.