July 16, 2007

Ward eying first team spot

When Georgia Bulldog starting tight end Tripp Chandler was arrested in June for underage possession of alcohol, it created an odd situation at tight end for the early part of the season. Chandler will likely face at least a one-game suspension from head coach Mark Richt and will force tight ends coach David Johnson to turn to one of three possible other options at tight end. The most likely option in Chandler's absence is redshirt freshman NaDerris Ward who has not been hit or blocked in a Georgia practice since last September.

Ward had surgery on his shoulder last fall and was fully recovered by the end of spring camp, was planning to push Chandler for the starting spot even before his regrettable incident.

"It is unfortunate what happened to Tripp and I was disappointed when I heard what happened with the whole situation. But as far as preparing to start [versus being a backup], the preparation is the same. I have been preparing to compete with Tripp and trying to win the starting job going into the fall anyway," said Ward. "I have been working on getting major playing time this year. As far as preparing myself physically and mentally to start is pretty much the same preparation I have been doing."

Chandler was the lone healthy tight end in spring camp with senior Coleman Watson out with a sports hernia and Ward still recovering from surgery. With several months to rehab his shoulder at full strength, Ward feels like he is in the best physical condition he has been in since his high school days in Oakland.

"My shoulder is feeling real good now and I am happy to finally be ready to go [full contact]. Since I got back from my summer break, I have been ready to go and I have done a lot of workouts. I feel like I am getting stronger and my body is getting in a lot better shape. I am comfortable going into the fall and I am feeling a lot better than I was last year about my shoulder and overall physical condition," said Ward.

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