College Football

Newnan's Matthews back at practice

(Morris) – Georgia fans - expecially in Newnan - collectively exhales this week when free safety Tray Matthews returned to practice, another strong indication that he could be ready to play for Saturday's opener at Clemson.

Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said late la st week he thought there was a good chance Matthews would play, but when the freshman safety took to the practice field in a regular jersey, it was a positive sign for the Bulldogs secondary.

Now, Georgia hopes the projected starter can just make it through the rest of the week without a setback after missing all three scrimmages and the bulk of practices with a strained hamstring and shoulder injury.

'He practiced, so that was good,' Richt said. 'It was mostly scout-team work and the tempo wasn't just blazing, but he got into some competitive drills. He looked fine. When a guy's coming off a hamstring, it?s going to be a couple of days because you really feel like he's over the hump. Hopefully he will be.'

Matthews, who enrolled in January after graduating early from Newnan High, had been at meetings and watching practice, Richt said. After an impressive spring, the former Cougar standout was expected to open the season as the team's starting free safety.

'He's going to do good, but he's just got to keep looking over the plays and learn what to do and be able to be at the right spot at the right time,' cornerback Sheldon Dawson said. Safety Shaquille Fluker also returned after missing time with a strained groin and an illness.

Georgia released its first new depth chart on Monday since before preseason practices began. Brendan Langley is listed as a starter in a four-defensive back look along with cornerback Damian Swann and safeties Matthews and Connor Norman.

Given that Georgia should use at least five defensive backs for most of the time against Clemson, sophomore Sheldon Dawson should get plenty of playing time, if not start.

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