Injured defensive tackle Jeff Owens said Wednesday that teammate Geno Atkins' decision to return for his senior year does impact his thinking, but still did not totally rule out moving on to the NFL.
"I actually just found out about that (Atkins) in the meeting room with Coach (Rodney) Garner who brought it up. Geno, I love him to death, he's a great guy, he's talented and he's a player. With him coming back, OK, we got hope, we can be good again next year," Owens said. "It does help my decision because me and Geno are from around the same area. We played against each other in high school and we always have a great time together."
Owens did not say when he might make a final decision as to his future.
As a redshirting senior, Owens actually has until right before April's NFL Draft to announce his intentions unlike college underclassmen who must declare by the Jan. 14 deadline.
"Right now I just want to get healthy," said Owens, who tore his ACL in the season-opener against Georgia Southern. "I'm on track, I'm pushing, I'm just working to get my reflexes back and strengthen my quads."
Owens added that he was not surprised that Atkins decided to return for one more year.
"I already kind of knew in the back of my mind about Geno. His dad played in the NFL and his mom wants him to graduate," Owens said. "I know Geno, but I didn't know that he'd come out and say it. You never know what goes through a guy's head."
Washington healing just fine
Owens isn't the only Bulldog whose on schedule following season-ending surgery. Linebacker Marcus Washington is too.
Washington told UGASports that the shoulder he had surgery on back in the spring is healing just fine and he anticipates being 100 percent in time for preseason workouts next August.
"Everything's coming pretty good," Washington said. "I'm actually out there now doing a little bit of running, just nothing too physical. I've just got to get my strength back to where it needs to be where I can compete at this level. That will be the last step. After summer workouts I'll be absolutely fine."
Before his injury, Washington played a key role on the Georgia defense after appearing in 11 games in 2007 with six starts. In those games the former Burke County standout collected 40 tackles, including two sacks.
"I'm just ready to get back out there," Washington said. "It's no fun having to sit out the whole year."
King finally speaks out
Running back Caleb King has kept very quiet since his demotion to No. 3 tailback, but Wednesday spoke exclusively to UGASports about his situation and what he needs to improve.
King, who is still the Bulldogs' second-leading rusher with 277 yards, has not played the past two games for the Bulldogs since missing a key block in Georgia's 49-10 loss to Florida, a play that resulted in a sack of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
"Of course I want to play but I made some mistakes in one game so I'm trying to do good by that," said King, who conceded it was the missed block against the Gators that's specifically cost him playing time.
Although disappointed, King insisted that his attitude has not been part of the problem.
"Yeah, I guess that (missed block) did sneak up and catch me but like I said, I've just got to get down and get better," King said. "I had been decent (with pass protection), but I missed one key block."
King added that he's willing to do whatever it takes to regain the trust of his coaches.
"I'd rather learn my lesson now than down the road," King said. "Of course I'm frustrated but I do understand that I can't hurt the team. That can't happen, missed blocks. I've just got to get better."
King joked that he's asked to pass protect the same play virtually every day in practice.
"It (missed block) won't happen again," he said.
This and that
Atlanta Falcons' GM Thomas Dimitroff was in town today and watched Wednesday's practice.
Josh Davis will get the start again at right tackle against Georgia Tech while Justin Anderson continues his recovery from his plantar fasciitis injury.
The Bulldogs will practice at 5:30 Thursday morning because of several conflicting events on campus including the annual Swahili Festival along with some academic events. The football team has annually changed their practice on this date to coincide with the events. ... Defensive endRoderick Battle has a hyper-extended elbow but it's not expected to keep him out of next week's game against Georgia Tech.
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