August 15, 2013

Will Tray play?

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Although freshman Tray Matthews has been slowed virtually all preseason by injuries to his shoulder and hamstring, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Thursday he believes the Newnan native will be fine for the Aug. 31 opener against Clemson.

That's certainly good news for the Bulldogs.

Not counting Paris Bostick and Reggie Wilkerson, who were already out for the year, six different Bulldog defensive backs have been listed at one time or the other on Georgia's post-practice injury report thus far.

That includes Matthews, the team's projected starter at free safety, and junior Corey Moore who is also being counted on to play an integral role in the Bulldog secondary.

However, Grantham doesn't seem to think he'll be without the players for long, especially Matthews who the coach said got in some work Thursday afternoon.

"I think with the plan that we had for him and how we were going to bring him back, the whole focus was to get him ready for Game 1 and that plan was to let him start today and build up," Grantham said. "We've got a scrimmage next week (Wednesday) and we'll try to get him some reps there. We think he'll be fine. He was here in the spring so we were able to evaluate him and get a feel for what we can do. We've just got to get him honed in on the calls and get him some work."

Grantham hopes he'll get Moore back sooner than later.

"We'll just have to wait and see how Corey keeps progressing and see what happens over the next week," said Grantham, who was counting on Moore to be a possible replacement for Josh Harvey-Clemons, who is suspended for the opener against the Tigers.

Along with Moore, safety Shaquille Fluker also unable to practice Thursday due to an illness and a lumbar strain.

"We've had to move some guys around because of injury, but in some ways that's ok, because it forces guys to learn more than one thing. I thought our young guys were challenged (Wednesday) night (in the scrimmage) and made some plays," Grantham said. "I expect Fluker to be back relatively short so I don't think that's going to be an issue. Of course, Tray practiced today and (Harvey-Clemons) is a guy I've been pleased with. Josh's an attention to detail guy with what we're asking him to do and I think that's due to the maturity of him as a player. We're not there yet, but we don't have to play yet. We've just got to keep working and if we do that, we'll be fine."

Grantham also had this to say:

On cornerback Sheldon Dawson: "Sheldon's a guy that was a really good special team's player for us. He's a fast guy, he's physical and he's got ball skills and those are important to being a corner. He'll come up and tackle and that becomes a big thing, too, with quality running backs. We're going to let all those guys compete. We're going to have a lineup but that doesn't mean it's etched in stone - its pencil that makes out the lineup and guys will have to continue to improve."

On his inside linebackers: "I think when you look inside, Reggie Carter is a guy who came in last year and has really stepped up and done a nice job. I thought Tim Kimbrough was doing a nice job before he got hurt, but we'll continue to work him and get him back here as soon as possible and see how he progresses. I'd have to say Reggie is the guy who's stood out the most right now but I was pleased with Kimbrough before he got injured. Johnny's (O'Neal) a big, physical guy who we're going to continue to work. All of those guys are going to play for Georgia at some time."

On outside linebacker James DeLoach: "I think James is doing a solid job for us. It was good to get him some work out there. I think that they closer he'll get to the game he'll be able to get more use out of his hands. Now it's clubbed up and difficult to grab but by that first game, it shouldn't be an issue."

On outside linebacker Leonard Floyd: "I think that Leonard has shown flashes of being a playmaker. I think that James has the ability to do those things, too. There's nothing wrong with having one more than one (guy)."

On T.J. Stripling: "I think Strip has done a good job of trying to make himself a better player. He's worked to improve in both in run and pass and become a complete linebacker. Obviously, he's out there working on his own in the spring and summer, just out there working. He takes a lot of pride in trying to be a good player and it's shown up in preseason camp. He's been effective and we'll definitely have a role for him over the next five to six weeks. We'll see how that role plays out but he's a guy I'm proud with how he's worked, he'll definitely do something for us."

Douglas making a move?

Count running backs coach Bryan McClendon among those impressed by freshman running back Brendan Douglas in Wednesday night's scrimmage at Sanford Stadium.

Douglas led all rushers with seven carries for 50 yards and caught two passes for 31 more, as he continues to make his claim on the No. 3 running back spot behind Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

"He had a really good scrimmage. He did a lot of good things. He ran the ball extremely well, caught the ball extremely well, and did a great job of running after contact, getting yards after contact," McClendon said. "He came out and focused, but not just him, the whole group came out and performed pretty well."

Still, McClendon hedged on his answer when asked exactly how close Douglas might be to claiming the No. 3 job.

"We've got a couple of more days. Obviously, Branden came out and helped himself tremendously but J.J. Green (9 carries, 34 yards) had a good scrimmage at tailback as well, so we definitely have a number of guys that are vying for that third spot," McClendon said. "But bottom line, whether it's on special teams, whether it be at the third or fourth running back, both of those guys are repping and need to get ready to play."

McClendon hopes that fellow A.J. Turman will be able to join the fray soon.

Turman has missed the past week while recovering from a right knee sprain and right ankle sprain and is missing valuable practice time.

"He has to make sure he's well. If he comes out and is limping around, he's really no good either so you want to make sure he is at his best when he comes out there so he can put his best foot forward, so to speak," McClendon said. "He's making sure he's on top of everything. He's a very diligent kid, he's a very conscientious kid as far as staying on top of things in that regard. Only time will tell."

Long no longer part of the team

As has been speculated for months, it appears that the career of senior offensive lineman Austin Long is over, Georgia announced Thursday night.

"I feel for the kid. It's a tough situation he's going through and he worked extremely hard on the field to put himself in position to get in the rotation," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "I got a chance to see him last night at the scrimmage and told him I'm thinking about him. I know it's tough. I feel for the kid."

Neither Long nor his family could immediately be reached for comment.

Long has not practiced with the team at all this preseason.

This and that

Although his name still appeared on Georgia's post-practice injury list, wide receiver Reggie Davis (right knee sprain) was able to work out on a limited basis Thursday. c Defensive lineman Chris Mayes remains out with a concussion, while linebacker Chase Vasser (ankle) was able to practice on a limited basis.

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