ATHENS - Michael Bennett sure looks ready to play in a real game, and Tramel Terry may not be far behind. Now the key for Georgia's receiving corps could be keeping its best one healthy.
Malcolm Mitchell has yet to play a full season since he arrived in 2011. He missed the better part of four games as a freshman because of a hamstring. Last year he turned an ankle and missed the opener, and played through a few minor nicks and bruises the rest of the season. (He also played cornerback until week five, but now he's a full-time receiver the rest of the way.)
Mitchell admits one of his main goals is just to get through a season healthy. But he's not dwelling on it.
"Football is football. So I don't too much worry about it," he said before Thursday's opening practice.
Mitchell says the injuries are just a casualty of the position. A.J. Green had his share of nagging injuries at Georgia. Last year Bennett and Marlon Brown each tore their ACLs. Terry tore his ACL last year in a high school all-star game, although that was during a kickoff.
"You've just gotta think about (the fact) you're running every play, you've got the ball (so) you're gonna get hit," Mitchell said. "So that might be three or four times, four or five times, however many times you touch the ball - unless you score every time you touch the ball. And as a return person, you're gonna get hit. It usually comes from the tackle, it doesn't come us just running downfield."
But Mitchell doesn't plan on changing anything about his playing style.
"No, definitely not," Mitchell said, with a laugh. "I just play. And whatever happens, happens."
Georgia's receiving corps is as deep as it's been in awhile, bolstered by the health of Bennett and Terry.
Terry, who enrolled early and missed spring practice, was expected to be limited when practice began. He's been in a normal red jersey, rather than a green non-contact jersey, and has been going through most, though not all, drills with the other receivers. He's wearing a brace on his left knee, but otherwise has no outward signs of the injury.
"Tramel's on the way recovering from his ACL, but he's about two weeks behind (Bennett)," head coach Mark Richt said after Friday's second practice. "He's farther along than I thought he'd be. But he hasn't enough time to just do it throughout the summer, to the point when he came to camp he could be free of that (knee) brace. The last thing a wide receiver wants to wear is a big ol' brace like that. But we have to do it, and he's pushing through it."
Bennett, meanwhile, has been ready to go for awhile, according to fellow receiver Chris Conley.
"He's been catching balls, he's been blocking, he's been squatting at 100 percent since the spring," Conley said. "So I think it's kind of been a thing where we kept him under wraps because of the fact that he is MIchael Bennett, and we want him to be ready for the first game. But it's not because he's not ready."
Bennett echoed that after Friday's practice, saying he's felt ready to go for a couple months.
Georgia's current WR depth chart (2012 stats)
Malcolm Mitchell, Jr.
40 catches, 572 yards, 4 TD (13 games, 10 at receiver)
Michael Bennett, Jr.
24 catches, 345 yards, 4 TD (five games)
Chris Conley, Jr.
20 catches, 342 yards, 6 TD (14 games)
Justin Scott-Wesley, Soph.
6 catches, 135 yards, 1 TD (nine games)
Rantavious Wooten, Sr.
15 catches, 187 yards, 2 TD (14 games)
Rhett McGowan, Sr.
12 catches, 150 yards, 1 TD (14 games)
Tramel Terry, Fr.
First season at Georgia.
Jonathan Rumph, Jr.
First season at Georgia