Why the Auburn game is a big deal for injured Georgia receiver Ladd McConkey

ATHENS – Ladd McConkey torched the Auburn secondary the last time he visited Jordan-Hare Stadium. He finished with 5 receptions for a career-high 135 yards and a touchdown in the 34-10 win over the rival Tigers. The game functioned as his breakout game.

This time around, Georgia isn’t hoping to spring McConkey on the Auburn secondary. The Bulldogs are just hoping to have McConkey out on the field.

“He’s got to be able to practice. That’s a big part of it,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s going to be able to come back to practice this week and we’re going to be able to do some more things with him. How he does in those things will determine whether or not he’s able to play. He had kind of a two-week advised shutdown. He’s done that. We’re expecting him to be able to go out there today and do some things, but non-contact early in the week and try to move to that.”

McConkey has missed each of Georgia’s first four games of the season with a back injury. After being Georgia’s most productive wide receiver a season ago, the Bulldogs have yet to see McConey take a single snap during the season. If he misses Saturday’s contest, it will be the second SEC game he’s sat out this season.

It’s far from an ideal situation for a Georgia team that has a new offensive coordinator and quarterback. Saturday will be Georgia’s first road game of the season and major test for Carson Beck and the entire Georgia offense.

Having McConkey would give Beck another valuable weapon while lessening the burden on the likes of Brock Bowers and Daijun Edwards.

“It’s always tough to do that with an injury. I think Ladd has done a really good job of staying locked in,” Bowers said. “Just staying with the team. We’re just trying to support him through it all because I know he wants to be out there playing. He’s just staying ready.”

McConkey could also help on special teams, where Georgia had two fumbles last week. Mekhi Mews has been Georgia’s primary punt returner with McConkey out. While he did fumble against UAB, he had a touchdown against Ball State.

This isn’t the first time Georgia has had to deal with prolonged injuries from its expected top wide receiver. George Pickens missed the first 11 games of the 2021 season, while AD Mitchell missed nine games last season. Both players were ultimately able to return for Georgia and make big contributions at the end of the season.






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