It will be at least three more weeks before Samuel can do much of anything with the wrist. He'll have a second surgery then to remove a pin and screw that was inserted to stabilize the bone while it healed.
The watching is tough. The waiting is nearly impossible. Just minutes after surgery, Samuel told his position coach, Bryan McClendon, that he wanted to get back in the weight room. Instead, he has a cast on his wrist, and the progress toward recovery seems far more grueling as any mat drill he missed during offseason workouts.
"It's dragging by," Samuel said. "I don't see any real progress. My arm's feeling a bit better now, I have more motion in my shoulder, but I don't know. It's a slow process."
The frustration has grown with each passing practice he misses, but Samuel for all his on-field talents, what sets Samuel apart at Georgia is how much he learns off it. So rather than simply lament his status as a spring spectator, Samuel is using the time to work on the little things his game was missing a year ago.
"I notice details," he said. "I'm paying attention to certain ways certain people block or people run. Being forced to sit back and watch, I've been focused on little details I was unable to focus on last year."
With Samuel out of action, the competition for carries in Georgia's backfield isn't likely to be resolved before the fall no matter what, but Thomas' big spring has certainly made things a bit more intriguing.
"Carlton has done a very nice job of running the ball inside," Richt said. "He's made more people miss and broken more tackles at this point than Caleb has, but Caleb is doing an outstanding job, himself."
Richt said King has a slight advantage in the blocking game due to the extra year of experience and game-day snaps he has gotten that Thomas has not. After watching both of them in practice, however, neither has shown they're ready to take over for the departed Knowshon Moreno just yet.
"We need to get both those guys quite a bit more reps in pass protection to be able to start separating them," Richt said.
While Samuel won't be fully healed from wrist surgery until June, Thomas and King are about to get a bit more competition for playing time this spring. Freshman Dontavius Jackson returned to practice Tuesday and participated in several of the team's drills. Although he technically wasn't supposed to take any hits, Richt said Jackson was knocked to the ground by accident on one play, but immediately popped back up, no worse for wear.
"He's phasing in right now, and it might be as early as next Monday (that he's back)," Richt said. "I think he'll go full before it's over."
LONG ROAD BACK
Bruce Figgins didn't have much trouble playing through the pain of a serious shoulder injury for most of last season, but sitting on the sideline while it heals is turning out to be a bit of a chore.
Figgins said his spring has consisted of little more than simple strength training workouts, and he's getting a little anxious to find his way back onto the field.
"It's real hard," Figgins said. "You try to come with a positive attitude and still try to get yourself better day by day, watching film and watching what other people do."
Figgins' progress has been slow but steady so far, and his last visit with the doctors showed that the shoulder has shown no ill effects following a season of wear and tear and surgery in January.
"I'm slowly progressing in my rehab, week by week adding on stuff trying to get it stronger," he said. "I talked with the trainers (last weekend) who said it's good, it's healed, but you don't want to rush it. You don't want to take any risks, so that's where we're at, just trying to strengthen it up."
While Figgins' workouts are limited, his growth as a player hasn't been. He said the time on the sideline has given him a fresh perspective on what his role with the team can be, and he's using the lack of on-field action as a chance to develop his game in other ways.
"This is when a lot of leadership comes in," Figgins said. "I've grown a lot from having to sit back and not being able to do anything but push other guys."
It appeared that there might be a close battle for the chance to replace CJ Byrd at safety this season, but defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said Tuesday he feels pretty comfortable with a starting tandem of Reshad Jones and Bryan Evans right now.
Evans shifted from cornerback to safety midway through last season, a transition Martinez said isn't usually a simple one because of the increased knowledge a safety must have of the defense, but Evans has made it look easy.
"He understands our scheme," Martinez said. "He's done a good job of paying attention to what those guys were doing even when he was playing corner.
More than just knowing his role, Richt said Evans has embraced the change. After platooning at corner for two years, Evans seems right at home and his enthusiasm about the new challenge has been evident.
"He's very excited about safety," Richt said. "He's shown as much spirit as anyone. He's high tempo, high energy. He's doing a good job and he's found a nice home."
SO FAR, SO GOOD
Figgins and Jackson are just two of nearly two-dozen Georgia players currently sidelined with injuries following a season in which it seemed like the population of the trainer's room grew daily.
So far this spring, however, the Bulldogs have managed to stay relatively healthy, and Richt said no major calamities have hit the players.
"We've got a couple of guys with fingers and thumbs taped up," Richt said, "but so far so good."