ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia coach Mark Richt spent a few minutes talking about the potential of the offensive line this season if everyone stays healthy. He even noted that it had been a strong camp for sophomore center Ben Jones. But when asked about a potential injury Jones reportedly suffered during Wednesday’s practice, his answer was simply, “No comment.”
It turns out, Jones was hurt, but X-rays revealed nothing serious.
Jones was on crutches leaving Georgia’s football facilities Wednesday, but X-rays showed the injury was just a minor sprain to his left ankle. Coaches consider the sophomore day-to-day.
As a true freshman last year, Jones started nine games, all at center, and was one of the few consistent contributors during an injury-ravaged season.
This year, Jones is expected to be Georgia’s starting center again, while freshman Chris Burnette has worked with the No. 2 unit. Junior Chris Davis, who had been working as the No. 1 left guard also could slide over to center, a position he played throughout the 2007 season.
A year ago, it was game day before Richt had a clear idea of who would return kicks and punts for Georgia. This season, the depth chart already is coming into shape, and it doesn’t look a whole lot different from last season.
Richt said Prince Miller, who racked up 191 yards and one touchdown on nine returns, would handle punt-return duty, with quarterback Logan Gray reprising his role as the standard fair-catch man.
Richt said Gray has worked almost exclusively on kicks inside the 10, where his primary responsibility is to decide whether to fair-catch the ball or let it roll into the end zone. Although Gray is likely to be Georgia’s No. 2 quarterback, Richt said the special-teams job has few drawbacks.
“It’s not a high-risk job back there,” Richt said. “Rarely do those kicks get returned. Most of the time, they’re trying to pooch it. It’s high, so it’s usually a fair catch or let it roll.”
There’s a bit more competition for kickoffs, with a couple of new faces joining last year’s veterans. Richard Samuel remains a top choice, along with Bryan Evans, but Richt said sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin and freshman speedster Branden Smith also are getting reps.
Keeping it simple
Despite his special-teams work, Smith said his primary focus this preseason has been on learning the ins and outs of the cornerback position. He said his offensive reps have been minimal, despite Georgia’s coaches suggestions that he could play a bit at wide receiver this season.
“I’m not really working at it,” Smith said of his offensive exploits. “I’m still trying to focus on defense, trying to get my technique down. I still need to improve there, so, right now, I’m not even thinking about offense.”