Several Dawgs sitting out spring ball

ATHENS – Senior linebacker Danny Verdun Wheeler and redshirt freshman Ian Smith joined the Bulldogs' injury report before Saturday's practice even began.

Danny Verdun Wheeler was in a cast after having surgery two weeks ago to repair a wrist injury that team doctors had hoped would heal on its own. He started on the weakside and strongside last year and was the team's fourth-leading tackler with 62 stops. He will work as a student assistant coach this spring, he said.

"You never want to miss a spring, but it's a good opportunity to learn the system even better," he said.

Smith, who has been suspended from the first two games following an offseason arrest, has a cervical strain the team didn't announce until Saturday. It's the aftereffect of a concussion he suffered "a while back," Richt said.

Neither player is expected to return this spring. The injuries left Georgia thin at both positions. At linebacker, the second string was made up mostly of walk-ons Saturday.

At center, incoming freshman Kevin Perez was working with the second unit. Tackle Michael Turner, the Bulldogs' most versatile lineman, also took some snaps.

Third string tight end Coleman Watson didn't practice due to a high ankle sprain suffered on the team's final day of mat drills, but he could return before spring practice is done, Richt said.

Wide receivers Sean Bailey (knee), A.J. Bryant (shoulder) and Demiko Goodman (shoulder), safeties Antavious Coates (knee) and Drew Williams (knee), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (shoulder), defensive tackle Marquis Elmore (wrist), defensive end Jeremy Lomax (shoulder), offensive linemen John Miller (shoulder), fullback Brannan Southerland (shoulder), and kicker Ben Wilson (shoulder) are expected to miss spring practice entirely or be very limited.

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