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Monday, July 20, 2009

Dobbs Sees Light at the End of the Tunnel

It has been a long time since Georgia had its full compliment of defensive ends completely healthy and ready to play. That probably won't be the case when fall practice starts in two weeks, but Demarcus Dobbs is happy the Bulldogs are getting closer to full strength.

"We've suffered a lot of injuries here at D end and a lot of people are just getting back," Dobbs said. "I'm not back to 100 percent yet, but I'm feeling good."

Dobbs broke his foot just days before Georgia's spring game, and the injury required surgery to insert a titanium pin. Like many of Georgia's injuries to its D linemen, Dobbs' foot problems seemed to come as a surprise, but as it turned out, he had been playing with a stress fracture for a while.

"I didn't know it was a stress fracture, I just thought my foot was sore," said Dobbs, who was one of four scholarship D ends to miss time this spring. "Because of the thin numbers we had, I was just taking too many reps, and so I thought my foot was sore and over time it would get better but it was actually a fracture."

The good news is that Dobbs will be ready when practice begins Aug. 4, although he said he's still only at about 85 percent.

"I don't have a time table (for a full recovery)," Dobbs said, "but I can do pretty much everything. It's just a matter of how long I can do it. I feel good running and working out and doing drills, so it's all a matter of time.""

Dobbs' return is a necessity, however, for the battered Bulldogs. Jeremy Longo's shoulder surgery has been slow to heal, and Dobbs said Longo may not be available for much of fall practice. Neland Ball isn't sure when he'll be ready to go either, and while Justin Houston is fully healthy, he'll be suspended for the first two games of the season.

That leaves only Kiante Tripp, who switched from offense in January, and Rod Battle and Cornelius Washington, both of whom are recovering from injuries of their own, to team with Dobbs and true freshman Montez Robinson at defensive end -- a position that was already deemed a problem by many observers after the unit struggled to get pressure on the quarterback last season.

"If I was looking from the outside in, I would say (there's questions) and we realize that as a group," Battle said. "We're just trying to refocus as a group this offseason and try to make up some lost practices that we've all had. Hopefully we can get some momentum going at the position going into the season and hopefully be a bright spot."

Ideally there won't be any lingering effects of the numerous spring injuries, but the bigger concern is that there aren't many more lost practices at the position.

The way Dobbs figures it, things should be getting back to normal by the end of the first week of fall practice, and that will be a welcome sight for a group that has spent far more time bonding in the training room than they have on the practice field.

"Hopefully by camp I hope to see everybody out there full speed doing what they do," Dobbs said. "I'm hoping by the third day of camp everybody (except Longo) will be back."

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