UGA loses Thompson, Haywood for the season

Cedric Haywood

ATHENS - Perhaps Georgia will soon draw interest from medical supply companies interested in being the official crutches supplier of the Bulldogs.

ATHENS - Perhaps Georgia will soon draw interest from medical supply companies interested in being the official crutches supplier of the Bulldogs.

Before practice Wednesday, they found out that starting defensive end

Will Thompson was done for the year with a fractured fibula and ligament damage in his ankle. And 30 minutes into the afternoon practice, wide receiver Cedric Haywood of Macon had his season apparently ended with a knee injury, initially diagnosed as a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Early indications were that Thompson, who suffered the injury Tuesday evening, would be out 6-8 weeks, but the discovery Wednesday of more damage changed that to at least four months. Doctors found a fractured fibula in addition to ligament damage, and he underwent surgery by UGA orthopedists at St. Mary's Hospital.

"He was a heart and soul kind of guy. He was a very great example of how we want everybody to play," said coach Mark Richt, who thinks the odds of Thompson receiving a medical redshirt are good. "Anytime you lose a guy like Will, you lose depth and a tremendous amount of experience and production."

Georgia's preseason camp has been one of injuries and position-shuffling, and Thompson's absence adds to the scratching out of names on the depth chart.

On defense alone, the Bulldogs have been without freshmen Paul Oliver and Mikey Henderson with hamstrings, DeMario Minter (shoulder), safeties

Kentrell Curry (leg) and Greg Blue (knee) and tackle Ken Veal (ankle).

The Bulldogs were forced to move linebacker Thomas Davis, who started last year in the secondary to safety until further notice.

Three defensive backs Minter, Tim Jennings, and B.J. Fields, will miss the Clemson game to serve suspensions, and Veal's status for that game is doubtful.

Thompson, an athletic 6-foot-3, 240-pounder from Northside High, had a breakout season last year, one that was overshadowed by David Pollack's career year on the other side of the defensive line.

Thompson started 12 of 14 games and was of impact immediately with a season-high 10 tackles against South Carolina. His 59 tackles were seventh-best on the team and third among linemen, behind Pollack and first-round NFL draft pick Johnathan Sullivan.

Thompson was tied with linebacker Boss Bailey for second on the team with six sacks. He had at least five tackles in six games.

Georgia's season-opening defensive line now looks a little different than just a few weeks ago.

Robert Geathers, Jr., who has had a good camp, will assume Thompson's spot. Geathers started the first two games last year, and recorded 32 tackles and two sacks. Geathers, though, has had a good fall camp.

Veal hopes to be back for the Clemson game, but the Bulldogs will still have Darrius Swain, Ray Gant, Kedric Golston, and Gerald Anderson at the tackle spots.

All of those four are redshirt sophomores or younger, while Veal is one of the view seniors in the defensive rotation.

Haywood, a redshirt freshman, was working into the rotation at wideout and competing with Georgia's top foursome of Damien Gary, Fred Gibson, Michael Johnson, and Reggie Brown.

"He probably tore his ACL," said Richt. "He was moving to the big-boy pack. In practice, he was doing things that got everybody excited."

The non-contact injury came early during special teams work. Haywood had taken a lateral pass from Gibson on a kickoff and began racing downfield, apparently tearing the ACL while he decelerated.

Haywood graduated from Central Fellowship Christian Academy in Macon as an all-state Georgia Independent School Association player, but wasn't awarded a scholarship until July of last year. He was redshirted in 2002, and has steadily progressed since arriving in Athens.

With the suspensions of sophomore receivers Mario Raley and Bryan McClendon for the opener at Clemson, Haywood would've seen quality time immediately.

The Classic Center in Athens will host Picture Day Saturday afternoon.

Doors open at 1 p.m. and Uga VI will be available from 2-4 p.m. Coaches and players will be at the Center from 3-5 for pictures and autographs. Assorted souvenir stands will be set up.

UGA officials request limits of two photos per family with Uga, and one picture and one autograph per person per coach and player.

The offense will be in the Grand Ballroom of the lower level and defense will be in the Athena Ballroom on the upper level.

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