ATHENS - Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham likes to say that he'll play his best 11. If the injury situation doesn't improve, his alignment may turn from a 3-4 to a 10-1.
The news from Monday's practice did nothing to allay concerns about the health of Georgia's secondary:
Freshman Tray Matthews, the projected starter at free safety, was missing altogether, after being limited the past few weeks, first with a shoulder sprain and then a hamstring injury. The only good news on that front is that the shoulder sprain is no longer an issue, per the official Georgia injury report. Matthews was listed as being out solely because of the hamstring.
Junior Corey Moore, who figures to get a lot of snaps at strong safety, continues to be out with a knee sprain.
And a new injury: sophomore Devin Bowman, a reserve cornerback, also missed practice with a hamstring.
Several more defensive backs practiced through injuries:
Sophomore Sheldon Dawson, a projected starter at cornerback, is practicing in a limited capacity with a shoulder sprain. (Limited capacity usually means being withheld from contact.) Junior Shaquille Fluker, another candidate to play strong safety, is practicing in a limited capacity, with a back injury.
The secondary is the area that Georgia can least afford to lose players. Clemson plays a high-tempo passing game that will often require five or six defensive backs on the field. Georgia lost both starting safeties, one starting cornerback and its top backup cornerback after last season. It will already be without sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons, who is suspended for the season opener and therefore cannot man the all-important star position, a hybrid of safety and linebacker. And freshmen Reggie Wilkerson and Paris Bostick are already missing the season with injuries.
Meanwhile, the offense had one very notable name missing from practice: Star receiver Malcolm Mitchell was out with what was termed "knee swelling." It was not known how serious the swelling is, and head coach Mark Richt isn't due to meet the media until after Tuesday's practice.
Freshman tailback A.J. Turman (knee sprain, ankle sprain) also missed another practice. He's been out for about a week.
The Bulldogs did get better news elsewhere on the injury front: Backup tight end Jay Rome was back in a regular jersey, after missing some practices and then being limited with an ankle sprain. Defensive lineman Chris Mayes was also back after missing much of the past couple weeks with a concussion. Senior receiver Rantavious Wooten, who had been dealing with a hamstring injury, is also back.