ATHENS, Ga. — When freshman Gerald Anderson suffered a sprained knee in practice last week, there was cause for concern but no panic.
Anderson had played in two games and was the third-string nose tackle, but even after his injury Georgia still had its normal four-man playing rotation at the two tackle positions intact.
When Ken Veal and starter Johnathan Sullivan were added to the injury list Saturday against Kentucky, however, the concern increased dramatically. Veal, who has earned increased playing time the last two games, was taken to the locker room for x-rays in the first half after he injured his left elbow. The x-rays were negative, and he returned in the third quarter with the elbow heavily wrapped.
With 6:16 left in the third quarter, however, Sullivan slowly limped off the field with what is believed to be a sprained left knee. Sullivan will be examined today and his status for next Saturday's game at Florida is uncertain.
"It it swells real bad (today) we're in trouble,'' said Coach Mark Richt of Sullivan's knee. "If it doesn't swell real bad, we have a chance (for Florida).''
|The defensive line is hurting. (Photo: Dean Legge)|
Sullivan, a sophomore, had 24 tackles and two sacks while starting the first five games. He added two tackles and deflected a pass before his injury Saturday.
After Sullivan's injury, Josh Mallard moved from end to defensive tackle to help out the interior line. Mallard probably will remain inside this week. Starter David Jacobs, freshman David Pollack, a sore-armed Veal and Mallard were Georgia's only defensive tackles for most of the second half.
"I appreciate the fact that (Veal) sucked it up and came back for the second half,'' said defensive line coach Rodney Garner. "We worked Josh inside a little in practice this week, and that paid off.'' Mallard was moved to end to utilize his speed, but he calls defensive tackle "my first home.''
"I was happy I got to play there again, but Sullivan will be healthy before we know it,'' Jacobs said. "I hope I can keep playing inside.''
Garner also has the option of moving end Bruce Adrine inside, but Mallard's experience at tackle made him the more logical choice on short notice Saturday.
The interior defensive line was a major concern after losing NFL first-round picks Richard Seymour and Marcus Stroud from last year's team. The lack of depth on the line became more of a pressing concern when two true freshmen — Darrell Holmes (shoulder) and Reggie Weeks (knee) — were lost with season-ending injuries. Shedrick Wynn, who has been a disappointment, is the only veteran defensive tackle who did not play Saturday.