Lumpkin returns to full pads

Kregg Lumpkin

ATHENS — One word will be music to Kregg Lumpkin's ears:

Cleared.

The sophomore tailback still doesn't quite have the full blessing of Georgia's medical staff to take on full-contact work, and he was held back as the Bulldogs began two-a-day practices Thursday.

He's more than ready to fully join the crowded running back mix at Georgia.

"I'm anxious," he said after Thursday's morning practice. "It's just the fact that I've been out a year. I love football. For the passion of the game, I want to get back out there."

He feels ready, but Kregg Lumpkin - who tore an ACL on the first day of practice last year - hasn't been completely cleared for full action.

"I've just got to wait and listen to the doctor," he said. "Right now, I've got some tendonitis and I think that's what's holding me back."

Running backs coach Kirby Smart can't be any less worried about Lumpkin, and said talk about him getting hit is moot.

"That's way overrated," said Smart. "Right now, Kregg's getting the crap knocked out of him every play. When they're hitting him, they're grabbing him.

"Our defense is an aggressive defense. They're not treating Lumpkin any different than anybody else. He's been on the ground."

Lumpkin is unofficially third on the depth chart at tailback behind Thomas Brown and Danny Ware, also sophomores.

All three had fairly similar freshman seasons, Lumpkin two years ago and Brown and Ware last year.

Lumpkin ran 112 times for 523 yards and six touchdowns, getting 4.7 yards a carry for the 11-3 Bulldogs.

Ware battled some injuries last year and carried 138 times for 724 yards and four scores, getting an even five yards a try.

Brown blossomed in Ware's absence for 875 yards and eight touchdowns on 172 rushes, 5.1 a run.

Lumpkin knows there'll be only so much room in the backfield.

"(I'll) support the those two and the other running backs," he said, "and be a role player as much as I can.

"I feel mentally and physically stronger. Just waiting to put all that together to the test."

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