Coach Mark Richt says he's impressed with his receivers, headlined by A.J. Green, and said barring injuries he's expects big things. But Richt's injury fears hit the team Thursday, and although not serious, they show just how precarious this position is.
Both Marlon Brown and Israel Troupe sat out practice Thursday, creating razor-thin depth, leaving only four scholarship receivers to participate in drills. Both Brown (shoulder) and Troupe (hamstring) are expected to be 100 percent soon, but their absence indicates what could happen if injuries crop up in the future.
"We just asked some of the walk-ons to step up," said sophomore Rantavious Wooten. "We just, as receivers, have to suck it up."
Now, the group still had Green, senior Kris Durham, Wooten and Tavaress King going full speed Thursday. The talent of the crew is not in question. Especially not with Green out there, as Richt says, "A.J. makes plays every day."
"We don't have a lot of quantity, but the quality is unbelievable," said quarterback Aaron Murray. "Our guys can play anywhere in the country, all of them."
Injuries have plagued these players in the past. Durham and Green had shoulder issues last season. King had to redshirt in 2008 after hurting his ankle.
Even when Brown and Troupe return, the group is slim. Receivers coach Tony Ball has structured practice to help alleviate the stress.
"Coach Ball has us in set groups that he has going to at a certain time," Wooten said. "I feel like that helps very much. You don't have to worry about a specific player at a specific time. You've got your group that you go with. That's helping out with the receivers being thin."
Despite the recent attrition, King says the receivers have made strides this season, and expect to make an impact.
"If our guys continue to progress, and stay healthy, we'll have a tremendous time," Murray said. "Those guys are going to be able to make some plays. We just have to hope they stay healthy, and we'll be fine."