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Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Practice Notes (12/29)

Tight end Bruce Figgins has spent most of his season battling through shoulder injury that has limited his performance, so it's no wonder that he's looking forward to getting healthy during the offseason. That doesn't mean, however, that he's not a little wary of his impending surgery, which is scheduled for the week after the Capital One Bowl.

"I'm a little nervous about it," Figgins said, "but I'm ready to get it over with so I can get my rehab done and be 100 percent."

Easing the nerves a bit is a healthy dose of empathy from many teammates. Figgins said he has gotten advice from Darius Dewberry, who underwent shoulder surgery three weeks ago, and Dannell Ellerbe, who had a similar procedure early in his career.

"They told me just not to try to rush anything, take my time and do everything they tell me to do," Figgins said.

-- Add two more names to Georgia's seemingly endless list of injuries.

Running back Richard Samuel had his wrist taped at Monday's practice after suffering a sprain Sunday. Head coach Mark Richt said the injury was minor, however, and expected Samuel to be ready for Thursday's game.

"There was X-rays, and there's no fracture," Richt said. "We're just trying to protect anything that hurts right now."

More serious might be a sprained right ankle for defensive end Demarcus Dobbs, whose two interceptions this season have been among Georgia's best defensive plays. Dobbs was on crutches at practice, but Richt again downplayed the severity.

"He was on crutches, but the goal for us is just to have him stay completely off it, wrap it up tight and try to keep the swelling down," Richt said. "(Trainer) Ron Courson was hopeful he would be able to play, and maybe even practice (Tuesday)."

-- Brannan Southerland still has a heavy swath of tape around his foot, but he's through complaining about injuries. The senior had his final season at Georgia cut short by a foot injury that kept him off the field for five games, then sat out the first two weeks of bowl practice in Athens with a knee injury, but he said things are finally starting to look up.

"I'm feeling great, I really am," he said. "I'm well rested, the knee is healed up, I'm really doing good now. I'm very excited and happy and thankful that I'm at the end of my injury hopefully, and I really feel like it's over. It's been a bear to get over."

Southerland's return to the field this season, however, hasn't exactly been as productive as his first three seasons in Athens might have indicated. The senior has just two carries for one yard and only four touches overall. While that marks a significant decrease in touches from seasons past including a career high 46 carries in 2005 running backs coach Tony Ball said he hasn't purposely ignored his senior fullback.

"Our fullbacks have never really been runners in our scheme," Ball said. "Where our fullbacks have probably been effective with the ball in their hands is in the passing game, so nothing has changed in that regards."

Still, Southerland wouldn't mind making a few more plays in his final appearance in a Georgia uniform.

"I'd like to go out and get a win," Southerland said, "but if in doing so I touch the ball a couple times, that'd be great."

-- In the wake of consecutive national-championship wins by SEC teams over Big Ten heavyweight Ohio State, the consensus among many pundits is that Georgia's conference has superior speed over its Big Ten rivals. Richt isn't so sure that's true, however, and he said the recent results in the Capital One Bowl where the Big Ten has four straight wins proves his point.

"I don't think it's that big of a discrepancy really, not as I'm watching tape of these guys," Richt said. "And this game itself, when you look at the record over the last four or five games, if one team is faster year after year, they're going to win, and that's not been the case."

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