Monday brought the news of several integral pieces for Georgia are making progressions on the long road to recovery. The longest road so far has been that of George Pickens, the junior wide receiver who tore his ACL shortly after the beginning of spring practice has been rehabbing ever since.
Reports started flying in Monday evening that the former Hoover, Alabama native was seen at practice Monday running routes with a knee brace on during the media viewing period. This would serve as the first time the media has seen Pickens running routes since Georgia's comeback win in the Peach Bowl over Cincinnati.
Pickens came off a four-game stretch in 2020 where he further solidified his status as the top receiver on Georgia’s roster. The connection formed between Pickens and then new starter JT Daniels at quarterback led Georgia to a 4-0 finish that put them in the conversation for the hottest team in college football at the time.
The loss of Pickens in March was a big one but certainly not a death blow to Georgia's chances of pursuing a national title. As we've seen over the last two weeks, Georgia still boasts some talented pass-catchers, sophomore Jermaine Burton and Adonai Mitchell, and Brock Bowers — two freshmen have flashed in recent weeks.
Despite the high upside of those two younger options, there is still a noticeable hole in Georgia's offense; it is a George Pickens-sized hole; the Dawgs have yet to find an option that replaces the jump-ball ability of the former five-star receiver.
Pickens was joined on the injury list by fellow offensive weapon and tight end Darnell Washington. Washington, a promising versatile piece, went down with a foot injury near the end of fall camp and has missed valuable time on the field.
The sophomore tight end was coming off a promising end to his freshmen season and, without Pickens, looked to be set to take over a much more significant role in the offense, something similar to what Brock Bowers is getting now.
Kirby Smart was asked about Darnell Washington and Tykee Smith on Monday, both suffered the same injury around the same time, and Smart indicated that Vanderbilt was always the target for their return. Both were "running at the end of last week, weight-bearing, like running on their own." Smart said, "We've thought all along this would be the target,"
The addition of Washington and Smith would give Georgia a matchup nightmare at tight end with Washington and Bowers sharing the reps, and the defensive back room would get a former All-America level corner in Smith.
Getting these players back from injury could not come at a better time for Georgia, as a tough four-game stretch is on the horizon following Saturday's game in Nashville. First, Georgia is set to host the number sixteen ranked Arkansas Razorbacks inside Sanford Stadium at noon, which leaves many warily of the potential "trap game." Then Georgia heads on the road to the 23rd Auburn Tigers before heading back home for Kentucky then completing the rough slate of competition with Florida.
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