Georgia All-America tight end Brock Bowers is running again in practice, and coach Kirby Smart wouldn't rule out him possibly playing in the No. 2 Bulldogs' showdown against No. 9 Ole Miss on Saturday.
Bowers, who won the Mackey Award as the top tight end in the FBS in 2022, has missed the team's past two games after undergoing TightRope surgery to repair a high sprain on his left ankle on Oct. 16.
Bowers was hurt in the first half of a 37-20 victory at Vanderbilt on Oct. 14. TightRope surgery, which involves using surgical thread instead of metal screws, is designed to accelerate recovery. The typical recovery time is four to six weeks. On Saturday, it will have been 26 days since Bowers' surgery.
"I think there's a lot of markers he's got to hit," Smart said. "He's working toward that, and I've never seen a person work as hard as he's worked to try [to get] an opportunity for himself."
Georgia receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint told reporters in Athens, Georgia, on Tuesday that Bowers hit 18 or 19 mph in practice.
"There's more than just the marker of sheer speed," Smart said. "One of the first things you look at on this injury is acceleration and deceleration, not GPS speed. So, when your [deceleration] numbers and your acceleration numbers get closer to what your norm is, because we have a baseline on all these guys, then you feel much more comfortable about it."
Bowers leads the Bulldogs with 41 catches for 567 yards with four scores. He had more than 100 receiving yards in three straight games before he was hurt.
Saturday's game against the Rebels (7 p.m. ET/ESPN and ESPN App) might be Bowers' final one at Sanford Stadium. He is ranked the No. 4 prospect on ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board for the 2023 NFL draft.
The Bulldogs play their final two regular-season games on the road, at Tennessee on Nov. 18 and at Georgia Tech the next week.
"It's not a greater risk of long-term, career-type things," Smart said. "What it boils down to is can he help us win and is he comfortable with that, and do we think that he can do the things he has to do to be able to help us do it? He's got to hit those numbers and check off those boxes we talked about before that's a decision."