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Recent posts by Dan Arkush
The Super Bowl champion Packers' ability to overcome injuries last season has been well-documented. In addition to placing 15 players on injured reserve during the 2010 season, including six starters, the injury bug continued to sting the Packers right up through their stirring Super Bowl victory over the Steelers, as key performers such as Charles Woodson, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson and Sam Shields went down for the count in the title game. What follows is an update on the status of the team's key 2010 injury victims with the opening of training camp just around the corner.
RB Ryan Grant — In last year's season opener against the Eagles, Grant got off to a strong start, churning out 45 yards on eight carries before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. By all accounts, Grant, who was very durable before his 2010 injury, is said to be fully recovered and primed for a productive season in what will be his contract year. He did lose a lot of weight and bulk while being injured and on crutches a good part of last season, getting down to 204 pounds at one point from his normal playing weight of 222. But with what figure to be very fresh legs, he should be in good shape to battle up-and-coming James Starks for the team's featured-back role.
TE Jermichael Finley — Finley suffered a season-ending torn meniscus in Week Five against the Redskins on his second snap of the game. Major knee injuries the past two seasons are legitimate cause for concern. But Finley, who like Grant is entering his contract year, began catching passes and running routes in late April and said he felt really good. Whether he will again considered the centerpiece of the Packers' passing game, as was the case before he was injured last season, remains to be seen.
WR Donald Driver — The 36-year-old Driver was bothered on and off by a quad/thigh injury in 2010, which resurfaced before the Super Bowl. Making matters worse, he suffered a knee injury and a high ankle sprain in the title game. His quad injury has healed, but the ankle sprain turned out to be just as serious, if not more so, than the ankle injury suffered by Grant in Week One. Driver was forced to wear a boot for two months and stayed off the ankle for a prolonged period. The lockout prevented him from working out with team trainers, so he rehabbed with his own specialists at the Michael Johnson Performance Center in McKinney, Texas. He is now running and working out at full strength and is expected to be fully ready for camp.
WR Jordy Nelson — Nelson's outstanding Super Bowl performance was tainted by a ruptured bursa sac that led to him showing up at the team's Super Bowl celebration at Lambeau Field on crutches. After resting for two full months and allowing his body to absorb the massive swelling resulting from the injury, he is back to lifting weights, running and working out in advance of what he expects to be full participation in training camp.
CB Charles Woodson — Woodson broke his left collarbone in the Super Bowl diving to break up a pass late in the first half. He says he is ready and raring to go and has no plans to throw in the towel anytime soon.
CB Sam Shields — Shields hurt his shoulder in the Super Bowl but continued to play after temporarily leaving the field. The shoulder is not expected to be an issue when camp opens.
DE Mike Neal — After starting to come on strong after overcoming an abdominal strain that forced him to miss the first three games, the muscle-bound Neal was lost for the season a week after an excellent performance in Week Five against the Redskins, when he tore his rotator cuff in practice. Widely considered to be the front-runner to replace free agent Cullen Jenkins, who is not expected back, there are genuine concerns about Neal's ability to stay healthy. Neal recently revealed that he probably won't be 100 percent recovered until late October, which would be about a year after undergoing shoulder surgery. But Neal said he should be ready for camp and able to tolerate the slight pain he figures to still be feeling after rehabbing in Tampa much of the offseason.
SS Morgan Burnett — After winning the starting SS job in training camp, Burnett suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week Four. The Packers' 2010 third-round draft pick in 2010 still has the upper hand at strong safety as long as his knee recovers sufficiently, and there have been no reported red flags standing in the way of an anticipated 100 percent recovery.
OLB Brad Jones — Jones went on injured reserve in late October with a shoulder injury, which should be fully healed in time for training camp. But the consensus is that he could have a difficult time regaining the starting ROLB job, as a real battle among a slew of candidates could be in the offing.
ILB Brandon Chillar — The versatile Chillar went on injured reserve in late November with a left shoulder injury that he initially suffered in Week Three. He sat out three games and played hurt for the next five games before going on I.R. Chillar's shoulder should be OK, but he is far from a lock to return this season.
ILB Nick Barnett — Barnett, who has finished two of the past three seasons on injured reserve, was off to a good start before suffering a season-ending right wrist injury in Week Four. He is reportedly completely healed from an October surgical procedure to insert pins into the wrist to reattach a tendon torn off the scaphoid bone. But the odds are dwindling that he will be retained, considering the strong performances in his absence turned in by A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop.
OT Mark Tauscher — Tauscher lasted only four starts because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. He recently said his shoulder is coming along, but hthe 34-year-old is a free agent and is seriously contemplating retirement.