(1) Georgia
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Georgia Tech
Georgia football-UGA
Georgia receiver George Pickens could be returning for the SEC Championship Game.

George Pickens getting plays down with Georgia offense, still awaits clearance

ATHENS — Georgia receiver George Pickens is off the scout team and working with the offense, but he’s not yet cleared for contact.

Coach Kirby Smart explained how Pickens, who suffered a torn ACL last March 23, is progressing with the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs set to play Georgia Tech at noon on Saturday.

“George has been practicing with us, doing more, repping with the threes and the twos some,” Smart said after practice on Tuesday. “We’re still waiting to get him cleared, but we didn’t have him with the scouts -- we had him working with the offense, trying to integrate him back to get the calls and know the assignments.

“But he’s still in a black jersey with no contact today.”

Smart said after last Saturday’s game that Pickens’ return would hinge on his strength testing,

“He’s got to his percentages on his knee, on his testing,” Smart said. “He’s got jumps, he’s got Cybex, he’s got about 15, 16 tests he does, and when he hits a certain percentage, we think he’ll be able to get cleared.”

UGA plays Alabama in the SEC Championship Game at 4 p.m. on Dec. 4 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

JT Daniels and Pickens were projected to be one of the most lethal quarterback-receiver combinations after last season.

RELATED: Projected 2021 WR numbers pre-Pickens injury

Pickens, over the final four games of 2020 with Daniels under center, caught 23 passes for 373 yards. The previous four games he had 13 catches for 140 yards.

RELATED: The Pickens Plan: Receiver No. 1 key to Bulldogs offense

If Pickens can get back for the SEC Championship Game it won’t be the first time he faces his home-state school

Pickens had 5 for 53 yards (from Stetson Bennett) against the Tide last season in a 41-24 loss.

The Bulldogs have shuffled and rotated quarterbacks and receivers this season, too, on account of injury as well as various strategies.

A deep stable of backs and freshman tight end Brock Bowers have been the most consistent elements

Bowers leads the team with 34 catches for 552 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Ladd McConkey is tops among the players at the receiver position with 24 catches for 376 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Jermaine Burton, who many considered the most likely receiver to prosper with Pickens sidelined, has 19 catches for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Burton has been in and out of the lineup with injuries throughout the offseason and into fall camp and the regular season.

When healthy, Burton ranks among the more explosive perimeter threats in the league.

Georgia hopes to get a lift from the return of receiver Dominick Blaylock, who on Saturday saw his first game action since the 2019 SEC Championship Game.