Returning from injury makes Washington feel like he’s out of jail

When Cornelius Washington tweaked his hamstring the first week of practice, fear of losing his job set in.

The more time he spent in strength coach Joe Tereshinski’s boot camp for the injured, that angst turned into motivation to escape.

Washington has returned to regular workouts and has set his sights on winning the starting weakside linebacker spot again.

“I especially would have rather been in practice, especially since Coach T has that pit down there,” Washington said. “That’s not the most exciting stuff in the world, I’d say. It’s a lot of random stuff. There’s a lot of reps to this and a lot of reps to that and most of it is hard. But that’s the point, to keep guys from wanting to be hurt and staying on the injury list too long. We call it jail. It’s like prison. I feel like I’m out on parole.”

Washington began preseason camp as the starting weakside linebacker and first choice to replace departed Justin Houston, who had 10 sacks last season. Although freshman Ray Drew has pushed for playing time at the position, Washington remains confident that he will not only win the spot again, but excel.

“My chances are real good to have the same kind of stats (as Houston ),” Washington said. “I’m happy and proud that the coaches put me in a position to make plays and I’m happy that they trusted me to go out there and do it. It gives me the extra motivation to go out there and work a little harder.”

Washington hurt his hamstring during one of the first workouts of preseason camp. After the initial injury worry wore off, he began to fret over the starting position he had won during spring workouts.

“I was doing the drill, full speed, and I bent down to pick up a cone and it just popped,” Washington said. “It gave me a lot of pain right off. After a couple of days, the pain went away and I felt better. Then that competition steps up whenever you’re out. I would definitely have rather been in practice.”

A motor scooter accident on Sunday knocked Drew out of practice with a sprained shoulder. Georgia coach Mark Richt expects to have Drew back for practice next week, so he was happy to see Washington return.

“Washington is moving around well and I think he’s got a pretty high level of energy,” Richt said. “With those veterans, as short a time as he was out, doesn’t set them back too much.”

Washington, a 6-foot-4, 269-pound junior from Burke County , rotated with Daryl Gamble at strongside linebacker last season. He started eight games, making 24 total tackles with a sack and six quarterback pressures. He switched to the weak side during spring drills and thinks his experience helps ease the transition.

“Learning (strongside) last year, it’s pretty much the opposite at the (weakside),” Washington said. “It just gives you an overall knowledge of the defense. Instead of just doing the job, you know why you’re doing the job. It gives you a better understanding of the whole defense and it gives you a bigger picture.”

Because the weakside linebacker doesn’t line up against a tight end, he also has many more pass rush opportunities.

Washington had four sacks and 13 pressures as a 4-3 defensive end in 2009. His sack totals dropped when he moved to a 3-4 strongside linebacker last season, but Washington hopes his numbers will pick up again this season.

“I’m definitely hoping for more hits on the quarterback,” Washington said. “I didn’t have many last year, so anything is going to be a step up. I’m very confident.

“I didn’t start in the base (defense) package, but I started in the nickel package last year and that’s our pass rush package. I have that experience and I’m pretty good at the things that we do. I’ve learned a lot and I know a lot of stuff.”

WR prospect accused of UGA burglary returns to Athens, posts bond

by Marc Weiszer

One of the nation’s top wide receiver recruits for 2016 turned himself in Friday in Athens after an arrest warrant was issued three days earlier on a charge of felony... Full Story

Follow marcweiszer

marcweiszer

Detroit Lions have announced the signing of former Georgia punter Drew Butler. He played for the Steelers in 2012.

4 hours ago