ATHENS, Ga. — There were two standout images of A.J. Green’s 2010 debut last Saturday after serving a four-game NCAA suspension: The magnificent first catch, leaping and grabbing the ball with his left hand in the Colorado end zone; and Green running in and later out of the locker room, getting treated for cramps.
The catch was a reminder of what Green can do for the Georgia football team.
The cramps were a reminder that the star wide receiver recently has been a bit brittle.
Last year, Green suffered a bruised lung against Florida and missed the Tennessee Tech game. He came back for the Auburn game, but he hurt his shoulder. He then missed the Kentucky and Georgia Tech games.
During his freshman season, Green played through a hip flexor injury.
Coach Mark Richt said Green was not full speed in Tuesday’s practice, with lingering problems from the cramping.
Green was asked whether it was frustrating to still miss time, at Colorado, upon his return.
“Oh, man, you know it happens,” he said. “It’s just cramps, so I didn’t really worry about it. I’ll be ready back next week. I hope I don’t cramp up again, but I’ll hydrate more this week.”
The injury trouble appears to be just a recent phenomenon for Green. He played in every game as a freshman, and his high school coach remembered only one injury, when he cramped up during a state championship game.
“We were trying to play him on offense and defense, and it was warm, so that’s why that happened,” Summerville head coach John McKissick said. “Other than that, we never had any problem with him.”
Green’s return at Colorado showed why it’s so important for the Bulldogs to have him healthy: His presence changed the complexion of the Bulldogs’ offense.
The downfield passing game was at its best, with Green hauling in passes of 50 and 39, the latter for a touchdown. The tight ends caught four passes, after catching a combined six the first four games.
Even the running lanes seemed wider. The Bulldogs averaged more than 5 yards per carry, 2 more than they averaged in the previous three games.
Green’s role could expand for the Tennessee game.
Fellow wide receiver Marlon Brown is doubtful after injuring his shoulder. Kris Durham, the team’s top receiver during Green’s suspension, could miss a second straight game with a neck injury.
The Bulldogs also need a punt returner while Branden Smith is out with a concussion. Green has been getting reps there, along with Logan Gray, Carlton Thomas and Derek Owens.
Despite the injury risk, Green wants the job.
“I would love to do that,” he said.