0

Georgia linebackers return to spring practice

ATHENS - Tony Taylor and Josh Johnson returned to Georgia's spring football workouts Friday, giving the Bulldogs almost all of their impressive stable of linebackers on the field.

Taylor (illness) and Johnson (ankle) had missed the previous two days.

Now the only linebacker not available is Jarvis Jackson, who is out all spring due to a shoulder injury.

"With all the guys healthy, we have a pretty good bunch, and it's a good mix of some veteran guys and some younger guys who really can play," Coach Mark Richt said.

Danny Verdun Wheeler (weakside), Taylor (middle) and Derrick White (strongside) worked with the first team Friday, and they're being backed up by freshmen Dannell Ellerbe and Johnson and sophomore Brandon Miller.

"Those young linebackers are really starting to play better," Richt said.

Johnson, particularly, has caught Richt's eye with his physical play.

"He may have the most natural ability to knock people back," Richt said. "He just really enjoys that part of the game."

Miller is starting to develop in that area, Richt said.

Georgia's veterans have noticed the progress of the team's young linebackers, Taylor and White said.

"We feel great about our linebackers this year," White said. "This could be one of best groups we've ever had."

Bad timing

Tra Battle missed his third straight practice Friday and isn't expected to participate in today's scrimmage. The junior from Forsyth injured his back in a car accident early in the spring and aggravated the injury in a scrimmage last week.

"He can't help it, it's not like he's trying to get out of anything," said secondary coach and defensive coordinator Willie Martinez.

Still, Battle is having to sit and watch while promising sophomore Kelin Johnson gets almost all the first-team reps at the safety spot he and Battle are competing to fill.

"It hurts the player when he can't go out there and improve," Martinez said. "When he was in there, he was doing a good job."

Injury update

Quarterback Joe Tereshinski missed his second straight practice due to a leg injury he suffered while sliding into second base during a pickup softball game. Tereshinski has developed a slight infection and has a swollen foot, Richt said.

Until the injury, Tereshinski wasn't having much trouble holding off freshman Blake Barnes for the backup position, but Barnes had a good practice on Wednesday while Tereshinski sat out.

"It's never really good to miss practice," Richt said, "but I don't think that'll be a deciding factor in the race. A lot of it depends on how Blake reacts to the time."

Richt has no plans to ban his players from recreational sports or any other reasonable activity, he said. Tereshinski's injury was worse than it might have been because he was wearing flip-flops at the time it happened, Richt said.

"If there's just a rash of softball sliding accidents, I might make them wear shoes at least," Richt said.

Defensive tackle Kedric Golston missed his third straight day due to turf toe and still is using a single crutch for support.

"It doesn't look real promising on him getting any more work this spring," Richt said.

Darrius Swain is working with the first team in Golston's absence.

Practice report

The Bulldogs practiced for about 90 minutes Friday in shorts and shoulder pads.

"I just wanted to make sure everyone was fresh for (today's scrimmage), and I wanted to reward them for fighting through it Wednesday," Richt said.