During a season in which Georgia lost several marquee skill position players to season-ending ACL injuries, tight end Jay Rome saw his season cut short by a right foot injury that required surgery.
He missed the final four games of the season and spring practices as well, but has returned this preseason to a position that certainly could use him at top form.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm just trying to get back to putting pressure on it and being able to run around and working out the soreness of not being on my foot for about seven or eight months,‚Äù Rome said after Saturday‚Äôs second preseason practice.
The Georgia staff is letting him come out of drills if need be and catch a breather and stretch his foot out, Rome said. He said he still favors the foot on certain routes, but has done more than he thought he would so far.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve basically been working in and doing what I feel comfortable doing,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm getting a lot better. I can see a whole bunch of improvement. Still a little rusty, a little shaky on a few different things but it‚Äôs just some stuff that I‚Äôm going to have to work through and just keep getting better every day and just monitor.‚Äù
Rome tore the Lisfranc ligament in his foot against Appalachian State on Nov. 9. It wasn‚Äôt until about a week later, he said, that he realized it would be a relatively long recovery.
After surgery in December, the 6-foot-6 Rome said his weight got up to 265 pounds while he had two screws in the foot for about five months.
He has since trimmed down to 245 now.
After having nine catches for 99 yards last year during a season in which he also dealt with a high ankle sprain, the redshirt junior from Valdosta is approaching the season with cautious optimism. With Arthur Lynch now in the NFL, Rome is the top tight end.
‚ÄúI know once I get back to 100 percent, I‚Äôm not going to have to prove anything,‚Äù Rome said. ‚ÄúI feel like my play is going to speak for itself.‚Äù
THEUS TACKLES WORKING AT BOTH TACKLE SPOTS
During practice on Saturday, junior John Theus began a four-play series at left tackle and switched in the middle to right tackle.
That‚Äôs how it goes when coaches are trying to find the right combination on the offensive line.
‚ÄúI know I‚Äôm used to it, these past couple of years it‚Äôs been shifting around,‚Äù Theus said.
Theus is listed as a possible starter at either left and right tackle. That could say something about his abilities.
‚ÄúI guess, or we don‚Äôt know what we‚Äôre doing yet,‚Äù Theus said laughing.
Theus was lined up at right tackle Friday but said he‚Äôs split first-team reps at both left and right tackle.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been pretty equal so far,‚Äù Theus said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm starting out at right but getting equal reps at both sides. ‚Ä¶Working both sides equally but feeling good about it.‚Äù
Mark Beard is also working at left tackle and Kolton Houston at right tackle.
Theus played left tackle in high school and right the first two seasons at Georgia.
His flowing red hair was trimmed down this summer.
‚ÄúI was ready to cut it,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúI always told everyone I would do it when I was ready and I was ready. I had a good run with it but it feels pretty good out there now.‚Äù
TIBBS LOOKS TO HELP AT RECEIVER
Among players coach Mark Richt mentioned as candidates to step up while Malcolm Mitchell is out at receiver is Blake Tibbs.
‚ÄúMaybe it‚Äôs time to fly for him,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúHe had a very good summer. He‚Äôs in great condition. He knows what to do now. I think he would be a guy that can help us.‚Äù
Tibbs, a redshirt sophomore from Lithonia with two catches last year, sustained a sprained ankle two days before the spring game but tried to play through it and worked hard to get back in good shape for summer workouts, he said.
‚ÄúI just stayed out there extra this year for 7-on-7s, just anything I could do,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúWe did pass skel three times a week so I tried to be out there every day and just keep grinding and making plays.‚Äù
THIS AND THAT
Rome was upbeat about former high school teammate and friend Malcolm Mitchell after the receiver‚Äôs arthroscopic surgery on Thursday. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a tough guy and that‚Äôs physically and mentally,‚Äù Rome said. ‚ÄúI really think he‚Äôs going to be back really soon and it‚Äôs not going to get him down.‚Äù How soon is really soon? ‚ÄúHopefully this season, early this season I hope.‚Äù ‚Ä¶Theus on freshman outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter: ‚ÄúLorenzo‚Äôs definitely got some quick twitch, he‚Äôs long. He reminds me of Leonard (Floyd) for sure. He‚Äôs fast. Good player, great motor. And, Theus said, he has ‚Äúa little bit of a nasty streak.‚Äù ‚Ä¶ Georgia will hold the third of nine straight days of practices Sunday afternoon. ‚ÄúWe have done a lot of work in just a short amount of time,‚Äù coach Mark Richt said. ‚ÄúSo far, so good.‚Äù