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Thursday January 20th, 2022 3:24AM

CFB: Smart gives Pickens update; Cochran returns

By AccessWDUN Staff

Kirby Smart wouldn't reveal a timeline on when Georgia's star receiver George Pickens would return to action. 

Pickens, who tore his ACL during spring practice, was the Bulldogs' primary receiver since midway through the 2019 season. 

The Georgia head coach said there is a long-term plan but would not disclose any timelines of a return during his Tuesday morning presser.

"Probably the week of the game, we would know more," Smart said. "We did a walk-through yesterday, and he was able to do that, get signals, and get calls. He’s done a tremendous job of working and recovery. Dr. Andrews, Ron Courson, myself, and George’s parents have all been involved in that conversation. It’s not something that we’re open to sharing. We are just very hopeful that he is able to get back to 100 percent. That is our concern.

Pickens hauled in 49 passes for 727 yards and eight touchdowns in 24 games during the 2019 campaign. In 2020, Pickens didn't improve throughout his sophomore season until JT Daniels took over the offense. The two connected 23 times for 373 yards -- 513 total yards.

Right now, the Bulldogs are using a combination of tight ends and receivers to fuel the passing game that averages 237.43 yards per game. Tight end Brock Bowers leads Georgia with 416 yards receiving and six touchdowns. Ladd McConkey has 295 yards and two touchdowns, and Jermaine Burton, who's still shaking off the rust after his injury earlier this year, has caught 13 passes for 224 yards and two scores.

Smart addressed the receiving corp on Tuesday, saying he will play whoever gives them the best chance to win, but more depth at the position is "contingent on them returning from injury." 

"It just comes down to practice," he said. "The guys who go out to practice, get the reps, and perform go out in the game. You don't ever just plug a guy in, you plug him in during the week and give him reps. Whoever gives us the best opportunity to win is who's on the field and that comes from practice. Those guys that are injured are trying their best, they're at rehab each day, they're working to get back and we're focused on getting the guys healthy and better. I want to have more depth at that position and that's all contingent on them returning from injury."

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will enjoy their first off week of the season and focus on getting better. 

"This week I’m trying to sharpen our edge and get better," he said. "That is what we have an opportunity to do. We have a chance to create depth and improve players. Not one player on our team would tell you they don’t need to improve, and that starts with us coaches. Looking at ourselves, quality control, how can we improve. What can we do better to help our players be more successful?”

Georgia specials teams coach Scott Cochran returned to the team this week. Smart said he's working with the special teams in an off-field capacity. Cochran left the team in August for personal reasons.

"He's back with us officially, working with us," Smart said about Cochran. "He's going to be assisting the special teams' staff and helping contribute to those guys in an off-field role for the rest of the season. I'm happy to have him back and hopefully going to keep him safe and healthy through his recovery process. We're glad to have his energy and enthusiasm and he'll help us in an off-field role with special teams."

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CFB: Smart gives Pickens update; Cochran returns
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