ATLANTA — The start of the 2022 season is quickly approaching and from a health standpoint, Kirby Smart feels good about where his team is from a health standpoint.
Of course the Georgia coach is quick to point out that it’s far more important to be healthy at the end of fall camp than it is at the beginning of it.
“We expect to be at full health,” Smart said. “We do have some guys right now with hamstrings, and a couple pulled muscle that you worry about over-use, over-training. Those guys have to get back, I don’t know if they’ll be ready for fall camp. But outside of that we should be back at full strength.”
A handful of Bulldogs were unable to fully participate during spring practice. Smart added that anyone who had a labrum injury — Brock Bowers, Smael Mondon, Bear Alexander and CJ Madden — will be good to go for the start of fall camp. Walk-on wide receiver Mekhi Mews is the exception at the position, as he had his surgery during the spring.
Offensive lineman Tate Ratledge missed all of last season with a foot injury he suffered on the opening drive of Georgia’s 2022 season. He was one of the big winners from fall camp last season, only for the foot injury to prevent him from taking the field again.
The redshirt sophomore has been taking reps in the summer, but Smart cautioned against expecting Ratledge to walk back into his starting role.
“You know it’s going to be an adjustment for him,” Smart told reporters. “I think people expect him to walk back in there, but that’s not an injury that’s just easy to return from. When you do the study and the history of the injury it’s one of the toughest to recover from, especially for an offensive lineman who’s using his foot on every play.”
Smart also provided a deeper update on CJ Washington. The freshman linebacker suffered a neck injury in spring practice. Given the severity of the injury, Smart made it clear there is no set date for when Washington might resume practicing.
“It’s been a tough, slow process. It’s not something that you rush. I don’t know the outcome of that yet,” Smart said. “We’ve had several specialists look at it. He’s recovering. He has shown improvement. The X-rays have shown improvement. He has complete stability, he’s able to go to class, he’s out of the neck brace, but I don’t know when he’s going to be able to return. That’s not something we want to rush.”
Washington signed as a member of the 2022 class out of Cedartown, Ga. He was one of two inside linebacker signees in the class, joining Jalon Walker.
Georgia is still waiting to see what the latest might be on defensive back Tykee Smith as he recovers from an ACL injury he suffered before the game against Kentucky last year. The West Virginia transfer has been able to do some running but he has not been fully cleared to resume football activities.
“I’ve seen him running, working out, testing, doing a lot of things,” Smart said. You’re never going to be 100 percent. You go back to George, you go back to every ACL we’ve had. He is not 100 percent but you still see the athleticism. When you watch him do DB drills, he’s very fluid, he has great ball skills.
“I don’t know if he’ll be completely cleared when we get back to fall camp but he should be cleared shortly there after it. Hopefully we can find a role for him to help us.”
Smart added that defensive lineman Tramel Walthour had his knee scoped but that he is good to go for the start of fall camp.
The Bulldogs have not announced a set date for the start of fall camp but it is expected to be the first week in August. The Bulldogs open the 2022 season against Oregon on Sept. 3 in Atlanta.
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