Kirby Smart provides injury updates to open Georgia Tech week

With one more game left in the regular season, the Georgia Bulldogs are relatively healthy. The Bulldogs do have a few players battling injuries, with their head coach providing updates on three of them on Monday.

Kirby Smart spoke about the status of wide receiver AD Mitchell and offensive guard Tate Ratledge to open the week before Georgia hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday. Smart said Mitchell’s last week was very similar to the previous ones as the sophomore wide receiver ran and did some individual drills but has still not been able to do team work such as participating in 11-on-11 situations. As for Ratledge, Smart clarified that the lineman was dealing with a shoulder subluxation but could have been available to play.

“He probably could have gone in the game,” Smart said of Ratledge. “It was one of those things where he checked out before the game last week, and [we] weren’t comfortable putting him in and wanted to give Devin [Willock] a chance to play.

Additionally, Smart told reporters that there is no situation where outside linebacker Nolan Smith would return for the Bulldogs after undergoing surgery to repair a torn pec muscle on Nov. 3. Instead, Smart said the focus for Smith is to be back in time to begin working out and preparing for combine work this spring.

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 on Oct. 8.

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.”

Smith, meanwhile, tore his pec against Florida and underwent surgery the following Thursday. Smart said that week he was hopeful to have Smith back at practice the same day of the surgery given how much motivation the senior linebacker brings to the team.

Smart told reporters after Georgia’s victory over Florida that he thought Smith had suffered a separated shoulder but that Smart did not know the severity of the injury. Smith exited the game in the first half after recording 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 1 quarterback hurry and did not return to the action.

Smith entered the 2022 season with high expectations given his experience, and through eight games he played an important part on the defense. He logged 18 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 pass break-up and 1 quarterback hurry before sustaining the injury.

Leave a Comment