George Pickens returned to action for Georgia against Georgia Tech on Nov. 27.

It was the first time the junior wide receiver had played since tearing his ACL during spring practice in March.

Pickens had 1 catch for 5 yards against the Yellow Jackets and then had a bigger impact in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama with 2 grabs for 41 yards.

Getting the 6-3, 200-pounder closer to 100 percent would be a huge bonus for the the Bulldogs offense, and on Sunday night during an Orange Bowl press conference, Kirby Smart said that Pickens’ effectiveness remains a work in progress.

“He worked a little bit more this last week,” said Smart of Pickens. “It’s a progression that we feel like we’re comfortable with, we feel like he’s comfortable with, we feel like the doctors are comfortable with in terms of volume. Some of that’s on him from a conditioning standpoint that he continues to work on. Some of it’s the ability to get the reps. You can’t catch up the reps and get everything that happens.”

Smart added that he was pleased with what Pickens was able to do against the Crimson Tide.

“I thought he did a nice job (Saturday) night in the role he was in of understanding what his job was,” Smart said. “He made a couple plays. I don’t know how many plays he ended up playing, but he certainly is growing in that. Some of that is also some other guys that are talented. We were able to throw the ball vertical. A lot of them ended up being pass interferences, things like that that prevented big plays.

“But George is a guy that number one, he’s not 100%, he’s not his old self yet. We see that from some of the numbers. But he is getting better, he’s improving. If he continues to work like he is or he has, he’s going to get more opportunities.”

In hist first 2 seasons at Georgia, Pickens caught 85 passes for 1,240 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The Bulldogs will meet Michigan in the Orange Bowl on New Years Eve at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.