GREEN BAY — Kevin King’s season is officially over. But before it ended, the Green Bay Packers rookie cornerback certainly impressed his teammates with his willingness to play through the painful shoulder injury that finally landed him on injured reserve Wednesday.
“That showed a lot — showed how committed he was, what kind of player he is. A lot of guys in this league get hurt, get dinged, and cut it short. We saw that earlier this year here,” veteran safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said after practice as the team prepared for Sunday’s game against the Browns in Cleveland. “To see him fight back and give us everything he had when I knew there were certain things he couldn’t do, seeing him still make plays, still come up and make tackles in the run game, not be afraid or let that hold him back, that just shows the kind of heart and passion he has for this game.”
King, a second-round draft choice who was the team’s top pick in April, had missed two of the Packers’ previous three games because of the shoulder and was in and out of the lineup against Pittsburgh on Nov. 26 because of it as well. He finishes the season with 31 tackles, no interceptions and eight pass break-ups, having played in nine of the team’s 12 games.
It was unclear when King was having surgery but by shutting him down before season’s end, it likely will allow him to have a full recovery before training camp next summer. The Packers’ offseason program kicks off in April, with organized team activity practices starting in late May.
King, who was not in the locker room during the media access period after practice, originally had surgery for a torn labrum as a freshman at Washington, and aggravated the shoulder last year as a junior. He spent his final season with the Huskies and all of his first NFL season wearing a protective shoulder harness in order to play.
“Sometimes, I would see it happen during a play. He’d just shake it off. I’d ask, ‘Are you all right? Are you all right? And he’d just stay in the game,” Clinton-Dix said. “I remember hurting my shoulder my rookie year, and that’s not something you play with.
“At some point in time, he had to just give up. Once we see you can’t really do anything and it’s limiting you a lot, I think it was the best decision for him. … Hopefully he’ll recover from his surgery and be ready for OTAs. We’ve got guys that have to step up and be ready and be held accountable.”
Veteran cornerback Demetri Goodson was activated off the physically unable to perform list to take King’s roster spot, although how much Goodson, who tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee in a Nov. 20, 2016 game at Washington, can help defensively. Goodson was primarily a special teams contributor before he suffered the stomach-churning injury against the Redskins. Goodson didn’t practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury that apparently occurred as he worked his way back last week.
Without King, the Packers will have to figure out a plan at cornerback, where veteran Davon House didn’t practice Wednesday because of a shoulder injury and 2015 first-round pick Damarious Randall is better suited to the slot position inside. The other corners on the 53-man roster are Goodson, Josh Hawkins, Lenzy Pipkins and Donatello Brown, although the Packers used safeties Morgan Burnett and Jermaine Whitehead in the slot in their sub packages last week against Tampa Bay.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers took part in practice as his comeback from a fractured right collarbone continues. While backup Brett Hundley ran the starting offense in preparation for his seventh start since Rodgers went down at Minnesota Oct. 15, Rodgers shared scout-team reps with No. 3 quarterback Joe Callahan and practice squad quarterback Jerod Evans.
Rodgers threw during unit drills at the start of practice while reporters were allowed inside the Don Hutson Center to watch and also worked as a pseudo-cornerback in those drills. He also caught balls from receivers after each rep ended.“He tries to get out there and play defense a little bit,” Hundley said. “His feet at corner, a little slow, so we take shots on him every once in a while.”
While Rodgers is eligible to play Dec. 17 at Carolina, there’s no guarantee that a scan of his collarbone next week will show enough healing that he’ll get the green light from team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie. Rodgers didn’t speak with the media Wednesday but he’s aware that he will have to convince McKenzie, coach Mike McCarthy, general manager Ted Thompson and vice president of football administration Russ Ball that he’s ready to go if his scans don’t show that the bone is 100 percent healed.
That means Sunday’s game against the Browns may or may not be Hundley’s final start — a reality he said he’s considered.
“I’ve got to approach it like I’m the starter each and every week. Because as we saw (against the) Vikings, you never know what’s going to happen,” Hundley said.
Ryan misses practice
Running back Ty Montgomery tweeted Wednesday that his wrist surgery was “a success.” Montgomery, who also dealt with multiple broken ribs during the season, was placed on injured reserve last week. … Inside linebacker Jake Ryan did not practice, but coach Mike McCarthy indicated it was because of the flu, not the neck injury he sustained against the Buccaneers. McCarthy said the injury is not a major concern. … Outside linebacker Nick Perry, who was on the injury report last week with a foot injury but played against the Bucs, did not practice and is now dealing with a shoulder injury as well. … The Packers practiced inside but McCarthy said he has outdoor practices planned for Thursday and Saturday, as the Cleveland forecast calls for a high of 28 degrees with 15 to 25 mph winds.