ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Jason Wilde
GREEN BAY – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Casey Hayward don’t know if Sean Richardson will ever play football for the Green Bay Packers again, and at the moment, neither one of them cares.
All that matters to them right now is making sure their brother is doing OK.
“Sean has been like a big brother to me – personally,” said Clinton-Dix, the team’s first-round pick a year ago. “When I first came in, he helped me. He’s from [the state of] Alabama, so we spend a lot of time together in the offseason hanging out, working out. So to see him go down like that, it hurts a lot. I pray God is with him and he overcomes everything.”
Richardson, who came back from a career-threatening 2012 neck injury to play in all 18 of the Packers’ games (including playoffs) last season, suffered another herniated disc in his neck recently and did not play in last Sunday’s game against St. Louis. He is expected to miss the rest of the season and his career is in jeopardy again.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy refused to speak about Richardson’s situation, despite the news of Richardson’s injury coming out last Friday, as first reported by Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
“This is really not the time to talk about that,” McCarthy replied curtly on Monday when asked how difficult it is to see Richardson going through this again. “There's still things that need to be looked at, and he needs to go through the whole process until the final judgment comes in.”
Asked if Richardson’s season is over, McCarthy replied, “This is not the time to talk about it. I just answered the question.”
Richardson’s two closest friends, though, did want to talk about it – especially Hayward, who was Richardson’s teammate in college at Vanderbilt and was in contact with his friend throughout his comeback and now again with his latest injury. Hayward said the defensive backs are dedicating their season to their fallen teammate.
“It’s tough. I’ve been playing with him for eight years now in a row. I’m going to play for him, we’re all going to play for him,” Hayward said. “Hopefully we can win the Super Bowl and he’ll be a part of that.”
Richardson’s neck injury dates back to Nov. 25, 2012, suffered in a loss to the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J. Because the first symptoms he felt actually pointed to a back injury, he initially didn’t realize the severity of his injury and even practiced the following week in advance of the Packers’ next game. Only after an MRI revealed a ruptured disc in his neck between the C5 and C6 vertebrae was the diagnosis made.
Richardson then underwent single-spinal fusion surgery in January 2013. His doctor was Dr. Robert Watkins, who had performed a similar procedure on Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who came back to have a phenomenal year in 2012 after missing the entire 2011 season because of his neck injury.
Unlike safety Nick Collins and tight end Jermichael Finley, whose spinal fusion surgeries were of the C3-C4 vertebrae, Richardson had a better chance of playing again because the herniation was lower. But the Packers still required him to get medical clearance from five different doctors before signing off him returning to the field during the 2013 season. He wound up seeing some action during the second half of that season before playing in every game last year, primarily on special teams.
During the offseason, the Packers matched the one-year, $2.55 million offer sheet he signed with the Oakland Raiders, even though Richardson was behind Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett and Micah Hyde on the safety depth chart. That spoke to how vital the team believed he was on special teams and as a unique situational defender.
Last season, the 6-foot-2, 216-pound Richardson saw more playing time on defense as the year wore on – he might have won a starting job in 2013, amid the Packers’ problems at safety, had he been cleared to play in training camp – and wound up playing 121 snaps on defense.
Last year, Richardson served as the Packers’ the third safety in the team’s “Big Okie” base package, as defensive coordinator Dom Capers played Richardson in place of cornerback Sam Shields. This season, Capers was again using Richardson in that role.
“That’s like my brother. So I feel for him,” Hayward said. “You feel for any teammate, any brother who goes out with any injury, but especially as severe as his injury. I just try to keep him in high spirits, pray for him and his family. Ultimately, it’s bigger than football.
“I think he’s making the right choice of being out for the season. I don’t know the diagnosis of everything, but the most important thing is just getting him healthy – outside of football. He has a kid, he has a fiancée. It’s bigger than football. And he realizes that.”
GREEN BAY – Davante Adams is not a very good – or patient – spectator.
The Green Bay Packers’ second-year wide receiver has been battling a sprained left ankle since the first half of the team’s Sept. 20 victory over Seattle and has missed the past two games. He played the second half against the Seahawks and tried to give it a go against Kansas City on Sept. 28 but departed after three plays. He did not play in the Packers’ Oct. 4 victory at San Francisco or Sunday’s win over St. Louis.
“It’s just the waiting game. It’s going to piss you off a little bit, but you’ve got to make sure you’re mature enough to take care of yourself and be smart for the team,” Adams said Monday. “Because I’d be hurting the team if I’m out there hobbling around the entire game. So I’m just being smart about it. It’s a long season, and you want to make sure you’re as fresh as you can be for the remainder of the year.”
Adams admitted that he pushed himself too hard after the initial injury and probably wasn’t smart in trying to play against the Chiefs. He thought since the injury is just a run-of-the-mill ankle sprain – not the dreaded high-ankle sprain – he could tough it out.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers lamented Adams’ absence after Sunday’s 24-10 victory over the Rams, in which the offense only generated 17 points for the second straight game. Rodgers called Adams “a Pro Bowl player” who could help the team’s dormant deep passing game.
“I came back a little too quick [the first time]. That’s the thing with ankles, you can kind of test it out and see, but it wasn’t ready,” Adams said. “Obviously you want to think that if you’re a player on the team, you want to think that things would be better if you were out there contributing. I’d love to be out there. It’s just right now, I’m trying to be smart with it.”
GREEN BAY – T.J. Lang doesn’t expect to miss any time with the right knee injury he suffered during Sunday’s win over the St. Louis Rams.
The Green Bay Packers veteran right guard said in an iMessage that an MRI Monday showed only minor damage to his medial collateral ligament and that he expects to play against the San Diego Chargers next Sunday at Lambeau Field.
“It’s just some MCL damage in my knee – nothing serious,” Lang wrote. “I should be able to go this week.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy refused to update the status of any of the three key contributors – Lang, nose tackle B.J. Raji (groin) and outside linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder) – that the Packers lost to injury in Sunday’s 24-10 win over the Rams.
But Lang’s closest friend on the team, fellow guard Josh Sitton, said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Lang in the lineup.
“He’s a pretty tough son of a bitch,” Sitton said. “I wouldn’t be shocked.”
Meanwhile, Raji got good news on his groin injury, saying that his MRI showed “just inflammation” and that he will take this week “day by day.”
Raji said watching film of the play on which he was injured, it appeared his foot got caught in the turf and caused him to twist awkwardly.
“With these injuries, I was told a couple days could be a big difference,” Raji replied when asked if he thought he’d practice on Wednesday. “I just don’t know at this point.”
But evidence the Green Bay Packers coach had Sunday afternoon – having watched the game in real time, and then seeing Bryan Bulaga in the locker room afterward – led McCarthy to believe that the veteran right tackle’s left knee had emerged from the team’s 24-10 victory over the St. Louis Rams no worse for wear.
“I thought he looked good in the locker room, that’s all I’m really concerned about. He was happy, jumping around,” McCarthy said. “There’s nothing like a big, old, sweaty hug from a 320-pound offensive tackle. I think he looks good.”
And, he felt good. Although he started slowly, allowing an early pressure after missing the past three games with a sprained medial collateral ligament and meniscus damage in his left knee, Bulaga quickly recovered and was solid the rest of the way.
“[The knee] didn’t bother me. I felt a little rusty in some aspects, but from a health standpoint and how it felt, it felt good,” Bulaga said. “[I] didn’t notice any pain or anything in it throughout the game, so we’ll just start out with that.
“I had some bad plays, I’m willing to admit that, but from a health standpoint I felt fine.”
The only drawback for Bulaga, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in August 2013 and underwent surgery shortly thereafter, was that he lost his offensive line next-door neighbor, right guard T.J. Lang, to a knee injury during the second quarter. Preliminary tests showed Lang did not damage his ACL, but he was scheduled for more tests Monday to determine what was damaged.
Josh Walker replaced Lang for most of the rest of the game, although Don Barclay did play one series at right guard, too. It’s unclear what the Packers would do if Lang can’t go next Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
“Obviously T.J.’s a big part of our line. He’s a veteran. He’s smart. I rely on him a bunch myself,” Bulaga said. “But when something like that happens, it’s next guy [up]. and we’ve got to pick it. Walk and Don, I thought they did a good job. Obviously throughout the week you only get so many reps during the week, but I thought Walk did a good job, stepped in nicely. He battled. Again, I’m not going to talk about guy’s injuries, but we’ll just have to see what goes on next week. No matter who’s out there, we need to be ready to go and play.”
GREEN BAY– Although Morgan Burnett, Davante Adams and Bryan Bulaga are all officially listed as questionable on the Green Bay Packers’ injury report, there probably should be an asterisk alongside those first two names.
For while optimism reigned on Bulaga’s chances of returning after missing three games with a knee injury, coach Mike McCarthy’s comments hinted at the likelihood that the team would take a continued cautious approach to Adams and Burnett, both of whom are missing time for the second time this season with their injuries.
“All these injuries, they're a little different,” McCarthy said. “[But] the fact of the matter is, this is the second time, so that's part of the evaluation. Just the fact that it's the second time, same injury [is a factor].”
Adams initially sprained his ankle Sept. 20 against Seattle, played the second half on it. He then started against Kansas City on Sept. 28 but lasted only three plays before exiting the game.
Burnett, meanwhile, missed the regular-season opener Sept. 13 at Chicago, played against the Seahawks, then re-injured his calf in practice before the Chiefs game.
Neither player has practiced since, and it’s unclear whether they’ll be able to do anything Saturday, when the Packers hold their last, light practice of the week.
Here is the full, official injury report from Friday:
Meanwhile, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Richardson, who was added to the team’s injury report as limited on Thursday, suffered a herniated disc in his neck and is out for the year. Richardson, who came back after having spinal fusion surgery after an initial herniated disc suffered during his rookie season of 2012, may not be able to resume his NFL career because of the injury.
GREEN BAY– Where his career would have gone from there, Mike McCarthy doesn’t know.
But the Green Bay Packers head coach knows this much: He was so impressed with Jeff Fisher during his 1999 interview with the then-Tennessee Titans head coach, he would have passed up the opportunity to coach one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history to work for him.
McCarthy, who’d spent the previous six seasons as an assistant in Kansas City under Marty Schottenheimer, was out of work that offseason following Schottenheimer’s resignation after a 7-9 season. That led to two interviews for McCarthy: One in Green Bay with new head coach Ray Rhodes, who was replacing Mike Holmgren; and one with Fisher, whose newly-named Titans – after playing the previous two years as the Tennessee Oilers following their move from Houston – were a team on the rise and building a new stadium in Nashville.
After the two interviews and before getting any job offers, McCarthy spoke with his father, Joe, back in Pittsburgh. He couldn’t stop talking about Fisher, the former Chicago Bears safety who’d become the team’s interim coach during the 1994 season and was seen as one of the NFL’s best young head coaches.
“[If] you’re talking about building a program, Jeff Fisher emulates that to the highest,” McCarthy recalled Thursday, as his Packers prepared to play Fisher’s St. Louis Rams Sunday at Lambeau Field. “I just marveled at the job he did there [with the Oilers/Titans].
“[I] really left there with a very strong impression. I’ll never forget, Jeff picked me up at the airport, we spent the whole day [together] – [I was] just really impressed with him and everything about his program.
“I can remember telling my father when I got back. He said, ‘How’d it go?’ I said, ‘Dad, you always talk about trusting your gut. If Jeff offers me the job, I think I should go to Tennessee.’
“He says, ‘You’re not going to go Coach Brett Favre in Green Bay?” I said, ‘I’m just telling you based on the way the interviews went.’
“He obviously told me I was nuts and I had to go to Green Bay to coach Brett Favre.”
That’s what McCarthy ended up doing. He didn’t say Thursday whether Fisher actually offered him the job or not.
“Ironically, ‘99 I do come to Green Bay and we all know what happened after that season,” McCarthy said, referring to Rhodes and his entire staff being fired after going 8-8 in their only season. “And Tennessee played in the Super Bowl. Go figure.”
GREEN BAY– Bryan Bulaga was thrilled to be back on the practice field Wednesday – the same practice field where three weeks ago he twisted his knee and wound up missing three games as a result – but the Green Bay Packers veteran right tackle wasn’t getting too excited about the possibility that he’ll return to game action Sunday against St. Louis.
“I think we come into tomorrow, see how it feels and just kind of take it day by day and move on from there,” Bulaga said after doing primarily individual drill work during Wednesday’s practice. “I wasn't ready a week ago. Believe me, if I feel ready, I'm going to go. I'm not really one to hold back. If I feel ready to play, I'm going to do my best during the week to show the coaches that I'm ready and play.
“But it's going to be a day-by-day deal. I'm just trying to get feedback every day from how it's feeling and watching the tape to see if I like the way I'm moving. I think that's a big key is, if you can get out there and you can feel good and move good but when you watch it on tape, how does it look? Every day is going to be an evaluation.”
Even quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked three times last Sunday at San Francisco – all by the man fill-in right tackle Don Barclay was supposed to block – wasn’t getting his hopes up.
“It was a light practice – just helmets. I don’t know what his status will be, but it’s great to see him out there,” Rodgers said. “He’s a great player for us, he was a big [re-]signing for us in the offseason. [I’m] not sure what his status will be but it was nice seeing him out there.”
Here is the full, official injury report from Wednesday.
Bulaga played in the Packers’ Sept. 13 opener at Chicago, then twisted his left knee – the one that was surgically repaired in 2013 after he’d torn the anterior cruciate ligament on Family Night – during the Thursday practice before the team’s Sept. 20 game against Seattle.
“It was just kind of a weird deal. [My] foot got caught in the ground and my body weight was going in a different direction,” Bulaga said of how the injury happened.
Bulaga did many of the same drills on Wednesday that he was doing at the time of the injury, but he said Thursday’s in-pads practice will be a much more accurate gauge of his improvement.
“It wasn't a heavy workload day like it is tomorrow. But I was able to participate in everything that we did,” Bulaga said. “Tomorrow, it's going to be a bigger test, putting pads on, going against bull-rushes and different moves and seeing how it reacts. Again, we'll see how it feels tomorrow morning, see Doc (Dr. Pat McKenzie), see the trainers and re-evaluate and go from there.”
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Burned once by trying to come back too soon from his sprained left ankle and making matters worse, Davante Adams plans to take a wait-and-see approach to his return.
The Green Bay Packers second-year wide receiver sat out Sunday’s 17-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium and said afterward that he’s not putting any sort of timetable on coming back – even though he’d love to play next Sunday against St. Louis.
“I’m just trying to pretty much take it day-by-day,” Adams said after watching the game from the sideline. “You want to be smart on it. The last thing I want to do is [come back too soon]. I came back last time and re-aggravated it so I’m just trying to be smart.”
Adams was downgraded from questionable to doubtful on Saturday after not practicing all week. He initially injured the ankle against Seattle on Sept. 20, returned to play in the second half of that game, then started on Sept. 28 against Kansas City but lasted only three plays before exiting. Adams said during the week that the injury is not a dreaded high-ankle sprain but rather a run-of-the-mill sprain.
Asked what the approach will be this week, Adams replied, “Just wait and see how I’m feeling. I’m trying to be smart more than anything. I don’t want keep messing up. It’s a long season.”
Without Adams and Pro Bowl wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who was lost for the year when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a preseason game at Pittsburgh on Aug. 23, the Packers’ wide receiving corps consisted of Randall Cobb, James Jones, Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis Sunday. No. 5 receiver Jared Abbrederis, called up from the practice squad on Saturday, was active but did not play.
SAN FRANCISCO – With No. 2 wide receiver Davante Adams downgraded to doubtful and unlikely to play in Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers promoted former University of Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis from the practice squad to the 53-man roster Saturday.
To make room for Abbrederis, the Packers released defensive tackle Bruce Gaston.
Earlier Saturday, the Packers downgraded both Adams (ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (calf) from questionable to doubtful. That likely means that neither player, despite making the trip to California with the team, was able to practice during Saturday morning’s light workout. Although coach Mike McCarthy would not disclose the practice location before the team left Green Bay on Friday, several players said the team was planning to practice at San Jose State, the alma mater of wide receiver James Jones.
It’s hard to imagine Adams not only playing without having practiced all week, but also that the team would promote Abbrederis if there was much hope of Adams playing.
With Adams likely out, the Packers’ will have Randall Cobb, Jones, rookie Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis and Abbrederis as their five wide receivers. McCarthy has had five receivers active for each of the three games so far this season, so it’s likely that Abbrederis will be active.
With Burnett unlikely to play, Micah Hyde is expected to start in his place. If Burnett does not play against the 49ers, it’ll mark the third game this season that he’s missed with his calf injury, which initially occurred during the preseason and he aggravated in practice before the team’s Week 3 game against Kansas City last Monday.
Meanwhile, although the team never made a formal announcement, it appears defensive end Letroy Guion has been moved back onto the 53-man roster after his three-game NFL suspension. He is now listed on the team’s roster instead of in a separate section devoted to suspended players.
Guion appears to have taken the roster spot of tight end Andrew Quarless, who was placed on injured reserve with the designation for possible return. Quarless suffered a left knee injury against the Chiefs.
SAN FRANCISCO – The Green Bay Packers aren’t giving up hope on wide receiver Davante Adams or safety Morgan Burnett playing on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, but their injury report may be a bit more optimistic than realistic.
Although neither player practiced Wednesday or Thursday before the team’s charter flight departed for California on Friday afternoon,
Here’s the full, official injury report from Friday:
Adams said he’s still giving himself a chance to play even though he initially injured his left ankle against Seattle on Sept. 20, came back to play in the second half, then started in the Packers’ victory over Kansas City on Monday night only to leave after three plays after aggravating the ankle.
“We’re just going to see how it’s feeling. I’m not quite sure yet. So we’re just going to keep feeling it out and then get a feel for it for tomorrow,” Adams said. “Obviously, if I’m going to sit out, then it’s going to be in pain. Yeah, it was painful, but just trying to be smart about it for the most part.”
If Adams can’t go, the Packers’ top four receivers will be Cobb, James Jones, Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis.
Asked if he had any hope for Adams, Packers coach Mike McCarthy replied, “Slight. He’s going to have to jump around [Saturday], jump through some hoops. We’ll see how it goes.”
McCarthy did say that Burnett, who has missed two of the team’s first three games this season with the calf injury, is “definitely closer,” but that may not be close enough to play.
According to McCarthy, the only player who was not going to make the trip to San Jose, where the team flew into Friday evening, was Bulaga.