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Bob Andres / AJC.com
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said senior Julian Rochester is technically cleared to play, but he has to work his way back into the defensive line rotation.

Georgia football injury update for Arkansas State: Ben Cleveland may get first 2019 start

ATHENS — Georgia football roster management is always in effect, but it could be a bit more noticeable this season the way the schedule is breaking down.

The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (2-0) play host to Sun Belt member Arkansas Sate at noon on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.

But next up after that is a national showdown with No. 7 Notre Dame at Sanford Stadium at 8 p.m. on Sept. 21, and Georgia will work to be as healthy as possible on the injury front.

The Bulldogs are expected to be missing two starters from the season-opening game in Saturday’s noon contest with the Red Wolves.

Right tackle Isiah Wilson (ankle) and receiver Kearis Jackson (hand) aren’t expected to play, based on Smart’s comments and practice observations this week.

Wilson wasn’t seen on the field during the media viewing portions of Monday or Tuesday practices, likely meaning Ben Cleveland will get his first start of the season should Cade Mays start at right guard.

RELATED: ‘Big Ben’ Cleveland ready to get party started

Cleveland, UGA fans will remember, suffered a broken fibula in the fourth game of last season at Missouri on Sept. 22. It has been a long comeback for Cleveland, who was starting at the time of his injury.

Last week, Mays started at right guard and moved out to right tackle, replacing sophomore Jamaree Salyer, who returned from injury earlier last week to get the start against Murray State.

Smart noted Jackson has been practicing to maintain his conditioning and timing, but indicated he didn’t plan on playing him with his hand wrapped up in a club. Smart said at the time of Jackson’s injury he expected him to be out 3 or 4 weeks.

The most notable injury on defense has more to do with the rehabilitation timetable of former starting defensive lineman Julian Rochester.

Rochester underwent offseason ACL surgery and has been working his way back on the practice field. Smart said Rochester is technically cleared, but he needs to work his playing level up before he returns to game action.

Rochester was working with the scout team earlier this week.

Reserve receiver Tommy Bush has been missing from the practice field of late.

“Tommy is a couple of weeks away,” Smart said on Tuesday. “He had a sports hernia … groin problems.”

Georgia nearly lost another receiver last Saturday when senior Tyler Simmons rolled his ankle and went to the injury tent. But X-Rays were negative and Simmons remains good to go for the Bulldogs.

Smart said freshman defensive lineman Tramel Walthour “is running and moving and may be cleared this weekend.”

Georgia injury report for Arkansas State

OT Isaiah Wilson, sprained ankle, questionable

DL Julian Rochester, knee, questionable

DL Tramel Walthour, lower body, questionable

QB D’Wan Mathis, head, doubtful

WR Tommy Bush, sports hernia, out

WR Kearis Jackson, hand, out

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