UGA football notes: Smith sidelined, but expected for opener

Georgia football coach Mark Richt said Saturday he still expects to have one of his biggest potential playmakers ready to go when the Bulldogs open their season Saturday against Boise State in the Georgia Dome.

Cornerback Branden Smith missed practice Saturday after suffering a foot injury in Thursday’s practice.

“We don’t think it’s serious,” Richt said. “Nothing that requires surgery. I guess the old ‘day-by-day’ is the best way to describe it.”

The junior, whom coaches have praised for his strong preseason, is one of the Bulldogs’ fastest players, can be a dangerous threat on offense and is the team’s the No. 1 punt returner.

If healthy, Smith would start at cornerback along with Brandon Boykin. Redshirt sophomore Jordan Love is the third cornerback in the nickel package.

If Smith isn’t full speed and can’t go, Richt said freshman cornerback Damian Swann is next in line. The 5-foot-11, 177-pound product of Grady High in Atlanta was a consensus top-100 recruit.

Richt said Boykin remains next behind Smith at punt returner. Behind them are freshmen Malcolm Mitchell and Swann.

Rambo not starting

Georgia ‘s starters at safety for the Boise State game are now set, and Bacarri Rambo isn’t one of them.

Richt said for the first time this preseason what some players have already said — that converted cornerback Sanders Commings and Shawn Williams are the starters at the position.

Richt called Commings “our No. 1 safety right now along with Shawn.”

Rambo was a starter last season when he finished second on the team in tackles with 82 and tied for the team lead with three interceptions. His second-team role has prompted uncertainty about his status.

“He’s done well,” Richt said. “They’re good football players. … With Sanders ability to play both, it just gives us better depth, but Rambo’s done well.”

Georgia gets taste of Georgia Dome

Georgia did not confirm its Friday practice was held at the Georgia Dome until after it was completed even though players already had posted on Twitter photos of the Dome and their impressions of working out there.

“The reason we went to the Dome was the great majority of our team hasn’t been to the Dome,” Richt said. “I wanted them to get in there and get a little taste of it.”

The Georgia Dome will be occupied closer to the game because the Falcons play a preseason game there Thursday and Georgia State plays there Friday.

The players even got to wear their new Nike Pro Combat uniforms in practice.

“I wanted them to get them out of their system a little bit,” Richt said. “The first time they put it on, I figure they’d be primping a little bit, just maybe being a little bit too focused on the uniform rather than the game, so I was trying to get those things out of the way so they could get over that and when we go play next week, I don’t have to worry about are they in awe of the Dome or are they taking pictures in the mirror with their new uniforms.”

Linebacker Alec Ogletree said he visited the Dome before for a high school prospects combine.

“It was good for us to let (out) some of the energy, some of the excitement about us playing in the Dome,” Ogletree said. “It took some of the edge off that we have about being excited about the Dome and we were able just to get back to playing football.”

This and that

Tailback Richard Samuel (quadriceps) practiced in a regular jersey Saturday. “He’s getting there,” Richt said. “I wouldn’t say he’s full speed, but we didn’t really expect him to be today.” Reserve tailback Ken Malcome did not practice. “He tends to have stuff hurt after a scrimmage,” Richt said. “It’s been multiple stuff.” … Nose guard John Jenkins (hamstring) still has not returned to practice. “He’s still not ready,” Richt said. “I’m hoping Monday. We really didn’t expect him today. It’s not 100 percent he’ll be back Monday, but we’re hopeful he’ll be back.” … Mitchell (leg) returned to practice, but receiver Marlon Brown (ankle) and fullback Bruce Figgins (hamstring) did not. Brown is expected to return on Monday.

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