Kirby Smart provides injury updates after Tuesday practice

Georgia wide receiver AD Mitchell has been a focus for Bulldogs fans since getting hurt on the second play of the Bulldogs’ second game this fall. While it remains to be seen when the sophomore wide receiver will be back on the field, his head coach told reporters on Tuesday that Mitchell is making progress.

Smart said on Tuesday night that Mitchell has practiced some this week and was able to take a few reps during the Bulldogs’ Tuesday practice. While it remains to be seen whether or not Mitchell will be available on Saturday, Smart explained there has been encouraging signs as Mitchell works to return to action.

“He’s practiced some. He’s been able to go out and take some reps and things. He took a few today,” Smart said. “I wouldn’t say he’s 100% — I don’t even know that I would say he’s close to playing, but he’s done more this week than he’s done any other week. So, he’s closer than he’s ever been, so I’m hopeful.”

Smart was later asked about why Mitchell did not undergo a Tightrope surgery for the high-ankle sprain like fellow wide receiver Arian Smith did back during fall camp. While Smart referred more detail to Georgia director of sports medicine Ron Courson, the Bulldogs head coach explained an MRI has to show a certain type of injury to the ankle in order for that surgery to be an effective treatment. Mitchell did not have that surgery when he initially suffered the injury on Sept. 10 nor when he tweaked it in Georgia’s game against Auburn on Oct. 8.

Smart also said it did not seen as if anything changed on Mitchell’s MRI after playing against the Tigers.

“There was never anything seen between the first MRI and the second MRI that showed there was any more damage,” Smart said. “It bothered him more. He felt like he tweaked it, but there was no shown damage or shown anything in there from the second time they MRI-ed it.”

Georgia’s only concern in terms of players dealing with non-season-ending injuries involves Georgia offensive guard Tate Ratledge, who missed the Kentucky game due to a shoulder subluxation. Smart said Ratledge has practiced every day so far this week, though that doesn’t necessarily indicate he will be available against Georgia Tech.

“Tate practiced last week every day, so it’s going to be a matter of how much he can play,” Smart said.

Smart said last Tuesday he was “hopeful” for both Mitchell and STAR Javon Bullard to be available this week but did not offer further clarification on Mitchell’s status. Bullard wound up starting for Georgia against Kentucky, though Mitchell was once again absent from the contest.

Mitchell did not make the trip to Kentucky last week or to Mississippi State the week before in an effort to concentrate fully on his rehab.

Smart told reporters two weeks ago that Mitchell was still not practicing with the team as he worked off to the side to rehab his ankle injury. Mitchell has not played since the Auburn game.

Mitchell traveled with the team for the Florida game but was not dressed out and did not play.

Mitchell went through preliminary pre-game warm-ups for the Vanderbilt game but did not take any reps with the wide receivers once the entire team came out to the field. He warmed up against Auburn the week before that but only played 4 snaps in the game.

Smart explained after the Auburn victory that Mitchell was now dealing with a thumb sprain in the midst of working his way back from the ankle injury.

Mitchell has missed eight of the last nine games for Georgia after suffering an ankle injury against Samford on Sept. 10. Mitchell caught 5 passes for 69 yards and 1 touchdown in the Bulldogs’ season opener before sustaining the injury on the first play from scrimmage against Samford.

Ratledge has come on strong this season after working his way back from a Lisfranc injury suffered on the first drive of the Bulldogs’ 2021 season. Ratledge had started at right guard in each of Georgia’s first 11 games this fall and has been part of a Georgia offense that averaged 40.6 points per game in that time.

Smart credited Willock for playing well in Ratledge’s place against the Wildcats.

“He did a good job. He took a lot of reps during the week over there on the right side,” Smart said. “He shows a lot of confidence, a lot of size. [There’s] things he can do better, things he can do better in the game, and he’ll continue to work on them.”

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