ATHENS — When AD Mitchell first went down, Georgia coach Kirby Smart said afterward that Mitchell could’ve returned to the game against Samford if need be.

Instead, Smart and the Georgia team have been waiting for a while to see Mitchell back out on the field. He’s played a grand total of five snaps since the end of the Oregon game.

Smart classified the injury as a high-ankle sprain. It wasn’t a bad enough injury that required surgery like Arian Smith’s was in the preseason.

Mitchell has been able to make progress in practice according to Smart. But not enough to travel with the team for Georgia’s game against Mississippi State last week.

“It’s been frustrating for him. He wants to get back,” Smart said. “He works really hard at it. He was better last week than he’s been every week previous. He actually got to do individual drills last week and did some things. But he’s still not, or at least last week but he was not where he could come out of breaks and do the things required to play receiver, and that’s tough.”

Related: Kirby Smart updates Georgia injury status: Amarius Mims powering back up

Smart has repeatedly used the word hopeful when describing Mitchell’s status this season. When pressed on Tuesday, Smart once again used that word but it perhaps may have been more so because of the repeated questioning about Mitchell’s status.

Teammate Kenny McIntosh did provide some details on how Mitchell has been doing.

“He’s back running and getting in the mix of practice again, stuff like that. He’s going to be fine. He’s going to be real fine,” McIntosh said. “But his mindset, I don’t think he’s worried. He’s trying to get healthy, that’s all, before he steps back on the field. He’s not rushing it or anything like that. He’s just going to make sure that he’s back to AD.”

In the absence of Mitchell, Georgia has leaned heavily on Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Ladd McConkey and Mitchell’s position in the offense.

Rosemy-Jacksaint and McConkey have been dealing with their own nagging injuries this season, which have required management during the course of practice.

“The beneficiary has been everybody,” Smart said. “The backs, we’ve gone a little more 20 speeds, the tight ends, we’ve gone more 12, when you have less receivers then you have to use other angles. Dillon Bell has played the X where he’s been, but Marcus doubles as an X and a Z.”

Related: Ladd McConkey shouldn’t surprise anyone after Mississippi State showing: ‘He’s a stud’

Not to sound like a broken record, but the hope that is Mitchell returns for Georgia, possibly as soon as the game against Kentucky. Georgia will only be able to bring 70 players with them to Kentucky, meaning that if Georgia is going to bring Mitchell along, it would likely do so with the intent of playing him.

Given the extra elements Mitchell brings to the offense it might be worth it to do so. Especially as the Bulldogs gear up for the SEC championship game and more as the season progresses.

At this point, Mitchell’s situation is getting closer to resembling that of George Pickens. And while a high-ankle sprain is nowhere near as significant as Pickens’ ACL injury, Georgia is hoping that Mitchell’s eventual return could add some extra juice to an already explosive Georgia offense.

“A real explosiveness,” McIntosh said of Mitchell. “I feel like we’d go back up again, real, real explosiveness with the deep shots. The running game has been picking up because of the o-line and stuff like that, so being able to have him to go deep once we break a few runs, have the defense come up and then they run past the DBs, it’s going to make our offense more explosive.

“Georgia’s real explosive on offense, and the more weapons we got the better.”

Kenny McIntosh shares the latest on AD Mitchell

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