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Practice notes: Injuries piling up

ATHENS, Ga. – Now 10 practices into spring, there has been a fresh outbreak of injuries and green, no-contact jerseys for Georgia's team.

Cornerback Sanders Commings is now getting reps at safety because of thinning depth at the position.

That was particularly true for the Bulldogs’ defense, which practiced Thursday without a pair of first-string inside linebackers and every scholarship safety on the roster besides Shawn Williams.

Among defensive players out Thursday with injuries: Linebacker Christian Robinson (concussion), linebacker Alec Ogletree (strained groin), safety Jakar Hamilton (concussion), safety Marc Deas (hamstring) and linebacker Mike Gilliard (knee).

Starting safety Bacarri Rambo is already out for the remainder of spring with a sprained MCL in his knee.

As a result of the injuries, cornerback Sanders Commings began getting reps Tuesday at safety, completing an experimental move that -- while long anticipated -- was basically required because of depth issues at the position.

“I think he’s adjusted pretty well,” Deas said of Commings.

“He’s catching on pretty good,” inside linebacker Richard Samuel added. “He’s back there making calls like Rambo and Jakar would do.”

Samuel, who missed Saturday’s scrimmage with a “bruised side,” was bumped up to first-string Thursday because of injuries to Robinson and Ogletree. Samuel played the ‘Mo’ position, while redshirt freshman Brandon Burrows stepped into the ‘Mike’ signal-caller role.

“It felt good. It was fun playing with the 1s,” Samuel said. “Things flow a lot smoother. Everybody knows what they’re doing. It’s quicker and everything.”

Richard Samuel worked with the first-string defense Thursday because of UGA's rash of injuries at inside linebacker.

Offensively, Georgia was still without the full services of tailback Washaun Ealey (hamstring) and receiver Israel Troupe (shoulder). But receiver Christian Conley (unknown) and fullback Bruce Figgins (neck) were back in action.

And despite the mix-and-match nature of Thursday’s practice, Georgia’s defense still got the better of the offense, according to UGA coach Mark Richt.

“The defense won today,” Richt said in a statement, “but I thought it was still a pretty spirited practice from both sides. The guys are starting to get tired out there with this being the 10th practice. But hopefully they will get revived on Friday and then be ready for the scrimmage on Saturday."

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BIG BODIES: Sophomore defensive end Garrison Smith is up to 290 pounds this spring – about 10-15 pounds more than last season, he said – and getting occasional reps as a nose tackle when Georgia switches to its nickel defense.

“I like being on that center, so I can use my speed and power to get off the ball. I like being on that inside,” Smith said.

It isn’t necessarily a full-blown position change, according to Smith, who pointed out that the defensive linemen move across the line a lot anyway in UGA's system.

“Whatever they call, we move around,” he said. “We can be put anywhere.”

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WATCH OUT: Defensive end Derrick Lott has received plenty of praise from coaches and teammates as one of the next big things for Georgia’s defense.

But Lott had this to say Thursday about a teammate: Outside linebacker Cornelius Washington.

“The other day, Cornelius had a real, real big hit,” Lott said. “I talked to him yesterday and was like, ‘Cornelius, if you do this every time, every practice, every game, you’ll be real good.’ He’s quick. He’s strong. I talk about Cornelius every day: ‘Look how big this guy is.’ He’s just real stout, tall, muscular, fast, strong. Cornelius can be a great player. I actually think he’s like one of the best players we have on defense right now.”

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FACULTY DAY: About 150 faculty and staff turned out to watch part of Thursday’s practice as a part of the team’s annual UGA Faculty and Staff Appreciation Day.

A reception and dinner was held after practice that was attended by Bulldogs players and coaches as well as UGA president Michael Adams.

“This is our opportunity to tell the faculty how much we appreciate them and just thanks for all that they do,” Richt said. “So many people cooperate together to help get the job done with our players. We monitor our players the best we can, but many outside people are gracious enough to help us. We mostly get good reports and if someone gets going sideways, we like to know about it and get them back on track. Another key element of this is that the faculty gets to see what our guys go through day in and day out and understand more about the rigors that they go through playing football.”

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G-DAY ON TV: To clarify television coverage plans for the April 16th G-Day Game, CSS will televise the event live. It will also be available on ESPN3.com outside the CSS region.

Matt Stewart, Buck Belue and Maria Taylor will call the game for CSS.

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NEXT UP: The Bulldogs' second scrimmage of the spring will be Saturday morning at Sanford Stadium. Following that, the team will practice Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of next week in preparation for G-Day.

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