S Javon Bullard of top-ranked Georgia sits out practice with an ankle injury

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart reacts in the second half of an NCAA college football game agaainst Ball State Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia safety Javon Bullard did not practice Monday after injuring his left ankle in a weekend victory over Ball State.

Coach Kirby Smart said he's not sure if Bullard will be able to play when the top-ranked Bulldogs (2-0) host South Carolina State in their Southeastern Conference opener on Saturday.

Receiver Ladd McConkey also remains day to day after missing the first two games with a lingering back issue.

Bullard is a key member of the Georgia defense. Last season, he was defensive MVP in both the semifinals and final of the College Football Playoff as the Bulldogs won their second straight national title. This year, he was a second-teamer on The Associated Press preseason All-American team.

“As far as where he is, probably won't know till Wednesday's practice whether he's able to go or not,” Smart said. “We’ve had guys in that position with that similar injury being able to play. But I really have no clue till we get further in the week."

Smart does expect running back Daijun Edwards to make his first appearance of the season. He missed the first two games recovering from a knee injury, but that was more a matter of the Bulldogs taking an abundance of caution against weaker opponents.

“Yeah, we expect Daijun to go," the coach said. “He could have gone last week, the week before that. We’re just trying to go from 80 (%) to 90 to 100. We think he’s going to be closer to that. I can’t say what he’s at. But he certainly felt good enough to go (last) Saturday.”

The Bulldogs could use a boost in their injury-plagued running game. Edwards was the team's leading returning rusher a season ago, gaining 769 yards and scoring seven touchdowns.

McConkey, who had 58 receptions for 762 yards and seven TDs last season, is clearly not as far along as Edwards.

“We’re trying everything we can to get him back. He’s trying everything he can to get him back,” Smart said. “I don’t really know how to answer other than I don’t know any more than I knew Saturday.”


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