Monday, October 27, 2003
Bryant has neck surgery, lost for season
ATLANTA -- Georgia has lost another key player to a
Cornerback Decory Bryant had neck surgery Sunday morning that
will end his season and leaves his NFL future in doubt, the seventh
starter or top backup lost to a season-ending injury for the
fourth-ranked Bulldogs this season.
Bryant was hurt on a kickoff return in the third quarter of
Saturday's 16-13 win over Alabama-Birmingham in Athens. Bryant
walked off the field. Though he did not return to the game, the
severity of the injury surprised Georgia coaches.
"It does surprise me because of the end result, but that he was
tough enough to walk off, no, that doesn't surprise me because he
has played tough like that for three years," Georgia assistant
coach Willie Martinez said Monday.
Martinez said he visited Bryant on Monday at St. Mary's Hospital
"He's going to be fine," Martinez said, adding that he could
not release specifics about Bryant's injury "because those are his
A woman who identified herself as Bryant's mother answered the
phone at his hospital room Monday and declined comment.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that two Georgia
athletic department officials, who asked not to be identified, said
Bryant had a rod inserted in his neck after breaking the third and
fourth vertebrae in his neck and stretching his spine.
Though Bryant didn't lose any feeling in his limbs, the Georgia
officials told the paper the injury likely would end his playing
Martinez said sophomore Tim Jennings would start for Bryant in
Saturday's game against No. 23 Florida in Jacksonville. Senior
Kenny Bailey, a converted tailback, will play the nickel-back role
that had been held by Jennings.
This is the second time this season Martinez has had to juggle
his secondary. Another senior, safety Kentrell Curry, was lost for
the season with a stress fracture in his leg discovered in the
Georgia's defense made a smooth transition after losing Curry
when Thomas Davis moved from linebacker to safety.
The defense also has lost starting outside linebacker Will
Thompson (ankle) and defensive tackle Kedric Golston (shoulder) to
Georgia also has lost starting tailback Tony Milton (leg),
backup quarterback D.J. Shockley (knee) and backup receiver Cedric
Haywood (knee) to season-ending injuries.
Top receiver Fred Gibson has missed the last two games with a
knee injury that has him listed as doubtful this week.
Several more starters, including defensive end David Pollack,
offensive guards Josh Brock and Bartley Miller, fullbacks Jeremy
Thomas and Jamario Smith and defensive tackle Ray Gant are listed
as questionable this week with injuries.
The injuries seem to have taken an effect as Georgia (7-1)
struggled the last two weeks to take narrow victories over
Vanderbilt and Alabama-Birmingham.