Brown expects to be back for 2007

ATHENS – Tailback Thomas Brown fully expects to return for the 2007 season.

"From what they are telling me, it'll take six months of rehab, and I can cut loose in May, June and July," Brown said Wednesday. "For the season, I should be back 100 percent."

Brown was lost for the season Saturday when he tore the ACL in his right knee returning the first kickoff of the second half against Vanderbilt. He will have surgery Tuesday.

"I just thought I had a thigh bruise because my thigh hurt real bad," he said, "and then I got up and couldn't walk and I realized it was more severe than that."

Georgia coach Mark Richt floated the idea that Brown might have to sit out the 2007 season in order to fully recover from the injury. Bulldog wide receiver Sean Bailey is sitting out this season due to an ACL injury suffered in December.

"It depends on how my rehab goes, but I feel confident in my ability to come back and be ready for next season," Brown said.

Running backs coach Tony Ball expects to have Brown back in the fall.

"That's going to be up to him, but I expect him to be back, and I expect him to be back full speed and be back leading this team," Ball said.

Until Brown returns, it will be easier to manage the running back rotation, Ball admitted. Kregg Lumpkin will start Saturday against Mississippi State (2-5, 0-3) and be relieved by Danny Ware.

"It's bad that we had to lose Thomas, but it's good for us," Ware said. "We just have to go out there now and make the most of every carry we get. If we go out there and run strong, who knows, we might end up with 20 carries a piece."

No Georgia back has gotten more than 16 carries in a game this year.

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