Georgia injury update: JT Daniels’ ‘pitch count’ up, George Pickens improving, key defender returns

ATHENS — The Georgia football offense could be on the verge of becoming more explosive, based on Coach Kirby Smart’s injury update on Tuesday.

The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs (7-0. 5-0 SEC) have a bye weekend leading into their annual rivalry game with Florida (4-3, 2-3) at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 30 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Quarterback JT Daniels, who has missed the past three starts on account of a strained lat muscle, is getting more work and nearing 100 percent.

“JT, his pitch count increased,” Smart said. “He got up to 65 or 70 throws (Monday), pain-free, increasing his distance around 40-45 yards. Hopefully, we’ll know more today.

“He’ll get some quality reps and see what kind of velocity he’s got.”

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Smart said last Saturday he would evaluate the quarterback position like he does others in his program, even while acknowledging there are some inherent differences.

“We go to practice, we do third down period, we do two minute, we ask questions in meetings, we do everything like a normal position,” Smart said. “So we evaluate that position like we do corner or left tackle.

“It is different in the management of it, I get it, in terms of reps and things. But we evaluate the same way.”

George Pickens update

Smart said George Pickens, who suffered a torn ACL at the start of spring drills last March, is not yet cleared, but he has been doing more work.

“He’s continuing to progress, (and) he’s working really hard and he’s able to do more and more each week,” Smart said. “He’s done some things in pregame warmups.”

Smart said there’s a “long-term plan” there -- that the family is aware of and is kept private.

Pickens was able to go through the walk-through on Monday, Smart said.

Pickens orinially targeted the game with Florida for his return. He has been running routes and catching passes in skeleton drills at the start of practice for the past month.

Receiver rotation

The Bulldogs have gotten stepped-up performances from Ladd McConkey and Adonai Mitchell with other receivers like Jermaine Burton (groin) and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (ankle) out.

Smart said track star Arian Smith, who has been out with a shin injury, might be back for the Florida game.

“I think we’ll hopefully get back Arian -- he was borderline questionable for the (Kentucky) game,” Smart said. “It was just a pain tolerance.”

Big return

Smart said safety Christopher Smith was cleared to return to play against Kentucky in a limited role, but Kentucky never put the Bulldogs into that package.

“The plan was to play him in our dime packages,” Smart said. “He practiced all week, but we didn’t get in dime situations, so we ended up not having to play him in the game.

“But he’s cleared to go and he’ll be practicing all week.”

Smith’s presence is big with Georgia thin in the secondary. Eight defensive backs moved on from last season’s team, including three transfers.

Cornerback Ameer Speed missed the past two games with an ankle injury but is “closer to being ready, hopefully, we’ll get him back by Florida week.”

Smart said tailback Kenny McIntosh remains limited by a hamstring injury.

Georgia injury list

QB JT Daniels (lat), probable

DB Christopher Smith (shoulder), probable

CB Ameer Speed (ankle), probable

WR Arian Smith (shin), probable

RB Kenny McIntosh (hamstring), questionable

WR Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (ankle), questionable

WR George Pickens (knee), questionable

WR Jermaine Burton (groin), questionable

WR Dominick Blaylock (hamstring), doubtful

DL Julian Rochester (knee), out

DB Tykee Smith (knee), out

CB Jalen Kimber (shoulder), out

LB Trezmen Marshall (knee), out

OL Tate Ratledge (foot), out

LB Rian Davis (quad), out

WR Arik Gilbert (personal), out

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