Tackle Dennis Roland missed his third straight day of practice Wednesday due to a sprained ankle.
“I think Roland will dress out and be able to play,” Coach Mark Richt said. “I don’t know if he’ll be able to start.”
If he doesn’t, sophomore Ken Shackleford will start at split tackle and regular starter Daniel Inman will move to tight tackle to fill Roland’s spot. Fernando Velasco has already been penciled in to start for Nick Jones (ankle) at split guard.
“If I start, I feel like I’m ready,” Shackleford said.
Shackleford made lots of progress in the preseason but saw his playing time slowly decrease in the first few games.
“There was a little stretch back there when I get down on myself,” he said.
A heart-to-heart with line coach Neil Callaway turned him around, he said.
“He said I wasn’t practicing as hard as I should,” Shackleford said. “I think I’m playing all right. There is always room for improvement.”
Like Shackleford, Velasco will be making his first start.
“Coach Callaway is a good coach. He has everybody prepared,” Velasco said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I just want to do whatever I can to help the team.”
INJURY UPDATE: Tight end Martrez Milner (back) didn’t practice Wednesday and is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt. Center Russ Tanner practiced in a green jersey but said it was just to rest a old shoulder injury. He expects to start Saturday. Linebacker Jamario Smith (back) is doubtful.
“Jamario is not doing very well at all,” Richt said.
Safety Thomas Davis, cornerback Paul Oliver, defensive end David Pollack, defensive tackle Marquis Elmore and offensive tackle Daniel Inman all could play with casts on their hands due to finger or hand injuries.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries to appendages,” Richt said.
LONG LIST: Georgia’s coaches always send SEC director of officials Bobby Gaston a tape from each week’s game, showing calls they didn’t like. But Richt admitted, “it was a little longer” this week after the Bulldogs were whistled for 12 penalties, many of them crucial.
Gaston told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that he has seen tape of the holding call on Leonard Pope on a kickoff and thought it was the right call. Richt said earlier in the week that it was a bad call.
SAME BOAT: D.J. Shockley had a chat Saturday evening in Sanford Stadium with Tennessee quarterback Brent Schaeffer. Schaeffer is still considered a co-starter for the Volunteers along with Erik Ainge, but he played just one series against the Bulldogs.
Shockley, who has spent the last three years backing up David Greene, understands his frustration.
“He was kind of down, but I told him it was going to be all right,” Shockley said. “It’s kind of the same situation going on. I just told him to hang in there and keep his head up.”
Unlike Shockley, Schaeffer can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. He and Ainge are in the same class, and speculation has already begun in Knoxville, Tenn., about whether Schaeffer will transfer.
ANOTHER COMMITMENT: Tripp Chandler, a tight end from Woodstock High School, has verbally committed to play for the Bulldogs next year.
“I just felt comfortable there, it made it easy to commit to them, Chandler told Scout.com. “Coach Richt, it just speaks for himself. He is an awesome guy.”
Chandler, 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, picked the Bulldogs over Ball State, Georgia Tech, Troy State and Clemson.