Defensive end David Pollack (strained patella tendon), offensive guard Max Jean-Gilles (sprained ankle) and safety Thomas Davis (strained hamstring) – all of whom are preseason first-team All-SEC selections -- were forced to miss the days two practices. Pollack, who was injured his right knee Friday and underwent an MRI on Saturday, could be out as much as two weeks.
“I doubt it’ll be a couple weeks, but if that’s what it is, we’ll honor that,” defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said. “We’ve got to give it some rest and treatment. He’s going to be fine.”
The Bulldogs can afford to be extra cautious with Pollack’s injury because he is so familiar with their system.
“He’s not a guy we need to push,” VanGorder said.
Jean-Gilles and Davis should be back much quicker. Jean-Gilles injured his left ankle, but it was a less-significant injury than the high ankle sprain he suffered on the same leg during spring practice, Coach Mark Richt said. Fernando Velasco worked in Jean-Gilles spot at first team guard Saturday.
“(Jean-Gilles) should be back Monday,” offensive coordinator Neil Callaway said.
Davis, who was injured Friday, dressed out for Saturday’s practice but could only watch from the sidelines.
“I wanted to sneak in there because it’s been a long time,” he said. “It’s real tough, especially when you’ve been anticipating this moment so long. I’ll definitely be back out there Monday. There’s nothing that will keep me out Monday, God willing.”
Defensive linemen Richard Cook (shoulder) and Jeremy Lomax (sprained neck) suffered injuries as well. Lomax may be out for as much as a week, but Cook expects to be back Monday. Defensive linemen Darrius Swain and Charles Johnson left early Saturday, but defensive line coach Rodney Garner said he thought they suffered only from fatigue.
The Bulldogs still are in better shape after six days than they were a year ago, but there's a lengthy list of walking wounded who are being held back to some level but are improving: Guard Josh Brock (shoulder); cornerback Tim Jennings (hamstring), tailback Thomas Brown (hamstring); defensive end Quentin Moses (shoulder); center Trey Chandler (shoulder); tailback Tony Milton (leg); offensive tackle Zeb McKinzey (shoulder), and offensive lineman Michael Turner (ankle). Offensive tackle Bartley Miller is all but an official redshirt as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury.
UP ONE SPOT: For the first time in school history, Georgia has been ranked in the top five of the Associated Press preseason poll. The ranking, which was released Saturday, placed the Bulldogs at No. 3, behind only Southern California and Oklahoma and one spot ahead of defending national and SEC champion LSU.
“We feel like it’s a great accomplishment for the program,” junior safety Thomas Davis said, “but we try not to pay attention to those polls.”
The highest the team had ever been ranked prior to the season was No. 6 in 1967.
“It’s not going to change our mind-set at all,” running back Tyson Browning said. “We’re still going to come out and work hard whether they put us at No. 3 or No. 8.”
Richt declined to speculate about rankings before the poll was announced Saturday and did not speak to the media after it was released. Offensive line coach Neil Callaway -- who was an assistant coach at Alabama in 2001 when the Tide was ranked in the top five of the preseason fall only to collapse, leading to the firing of head coach Mike DuBose – offered some perspective.
“Preseason don’t mean a thing,” he said. “If anything it hurts you because of all the people talking. The postseason (poll) is what counts.”
WELCOME TO THE SEC: Tailback Danny Ware didn't think it was all that.
Not being able to participate drove Thomas Davis crazy.
Greg Blue is into conservation.
But linebacker Arnold Harrison said the first day of pads was fun and instructional.
"Gotta always introduce 'em to how we play Georgia football around here," he said. "Tough and intelligent." And there are other ways to teach freshmen on offense.
"We try to introduce them, too, in a more physical manner," he said. "They talk more (than) put up. We tried to put our shoulder pads on 'em." Blue said the linemen and linebackers got more action, which was fine with him.
"We're kinda wounded right now; I didn't come out there and try and kill anybody," said Blue, Davis' roommate and secondary mate. "I just laid off a little bit. I'll just save it for Sept. 4." Davis sat out with a tight hamstring, but simply watching was much more painful.
"It was real tough," said the junior safety, who tweaked his hamstring Friday and was held out Saturday. "You have been anticipating the moment, just ready to get back into the flow of things, and then you're not able to." Ware is perhaps the most verbally confident Bulldog.
"The defense has been talking that junk all week long," he said. "'It's gonna be on when we put the pads on. When we put the pads on, y'all going down.' They don't back us down. We came to play."
SHOWDOWN LOOMING: Monday is the biggest day of the season for the Bulldog kickers. That’s the date of a special teams scrimmage that probably will determine who is the team’s starting kicker for the first game of the season.
“Of course, there’s going to be pressure,” said walk-on Brandon Coutu. “There’s pressure every time we kick.”
Coutu seems to be the frontrunner in a battle that includes fellow walk-on Brian Mimbs, a graduate of Dublin High School, and scholarship kicker Andy Bailey. Coutu said he has only missed one kick in the first week of practice and got a vote of confidence last week from Richt, but Bailey remains confident.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I’m hitting the ball real well. It’s going to be a tough decision for the coaches because we’re both kicking pretty strong.”
The scrimmage will be held at Sanford Stadium so the coaches can see how the kickers react on a big, if empty, stage.
“Hopefully after that, they’ll make a depth chart and give us an idea of what we’re looking at,” Coutu said. “I know whoever ends up kicking will be pretty successful because we’ve got some pretty good guys out here.”
MIXED BAG: Freshman wide receiver Demiko Goodman wasn’t sad to see Davis sitting out Saturday during the first day of full contact practice. Davis, one of the most feared players in the SEC, had promised to give young receivers a proper welcome the first chance he got.
“He’ll be back out there,” Goodman said. “He’ll probably try to rattle my head a little.”
The freshmen didn’t get a free pass just because Davis wasn’t around, Goodman said.
“The whole defense came after the freshmen,” he said. “They tried to show us what it’s all about.”
Goodman had a strong showing with no dropped passes but fellow freshman Kenneth Harris dropped two balls. Harris said afterward that his unfamiliarity with the offense had him thinking too much.
“You just have to play,” he said. “In sports, you can’t think about anything.”
DEFENDING A DEFENDER: Richt on Friday sought to clarify the circumstances regarding the arrest and suspension of backup defensive back Mike Gilliam. The junior was arrested early in July with criminal trespass, stemming from an incident in which he and two other men were charged with driving and damaging a university-owned vehicle. Richt didn't dispute Gilliam's participation, but pointed out that perception wasn't quite reality. "His buddy was riding around in a truck, mudding around in a truck," Richt explained. "He was a passenger. It sounded awful.
"He said people were thinking he robbed a bank or something."
CHANGES: Through the opening week of acclimation and first session of two-a-days, here's a recap of the most prominent position switches: Tailback Albert Hollis to safety, having asked for the switch early in the week; freshman Thomas Brown arrived as a two-way prospect but is settled into the tailback race; Darrius Swain from offense to defense, after a switch from defense to offense in the spring; Tyson Browning from wideout to tailback after the reverse move in the spring.
QUOTABLE: "Danny's on another level running. That man runs so hard, it's amazing. And with the speed he has?" Browning on running mate Ware.