College football: Top Georgia players out as Peach Bowl prep kicks off
Athens, Georgia - As the Georgia Bulldogs begin their preparation for the College Football Playoff's (CFP) Peach Bowl game, head coach Kirby Smart revealed the team has key players missing due to injury,
Georgia receiver Ladd McConkey and right tackle Warren McClendon are two leading 'Dogs that have been sidelined from practice due to injuries, Coach Smart confirmed in a press conference on Tuesday.
McConkey is the team’s second-leading receiver this year, with 51 passes for 675 yards and five touchdowns on the season. The redshirt sophomore left the SEC championship game on December 3 with a knee injury - a lingering issue prior to the game against LSU.
McClendon is also suffering from a knee injury that has previously been noted as an MCL injury. Sophomore Amarius Mims replaced McClendon in the SEC championship game and will become a starter in the team's bowl game if McClendon can’t play.
Smart provided updates on both star players, noting that they are working their way back onto the field.
"I don’t know when exactly we’ll get those guys back," Smart said. "They’re not practicing yet, but we’re still 16 or 17 days away."
He added that although the Bulldogs have not yet practiced the specific plays they'll use against Ohio State, they are deep in preparation with drills and workouts ahead of the teams' semifinal matchup on December 31.
Coach Smart remains hopeful for his players returning to practice
While McConkey and McClendon are expected to return to practice within the coming weeks, Smart is hopeful for the return of another athlete who is expected to return to practice this week.
"[Marvin Jones Jr. has] been doing a ton of conditioning and practicing with us on the side. He’ll be able to start practicing with us soon if not today," Smart said of the freshman linebacker.
Jones, who missed the SEC championship game with an ankle injury, would provide crucial depth to a thin defensive unit, as the Bulldogs are also without Nolan Smith because of a season-ending injury.
Yet like the Bulldogs, opponent Ohio State has been dealing with a slew of injuries and holes in their roster as well.
On Tuesday, the Buckeyes took another hit when TreVeyon Henderson announced that he, too, will miss the Peach Bowl and must undergo season-ending ankle surgery.
The big CFP Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl showdown between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Ohio State Buckeyes is set for New Year's Eve at 8 PM EST.
Cover photo: Todd Kirkland / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP