The Green Bay Packers were prepared to do an injury settlement with rookie Lawrence Guy and perhaps bring him back later in the season.
But they thought enough of him as a prospect that rather than risk losing the defensive end to another team, they decided to keep him on injured reserve all season.
Guy, a seventh-round draft pick from Arizona State, sustained a concussion during a training camp practice on Aug. 3. He returned to practice five days later, played in one preseason game but left practice on Aug. 17 and never returned when his concussion symptoms came back.
On Sept. 3, when the Packers made their final cuts, they told Guy’s agent, Jack Scharf, they planned to work out an injury settlement, which pays a player for the length of time he would be out. Following the length of the settlement, he is free to sign with another team.
“They were thinking about that, but they wanted to keep me,” Guy said. “It makes me feel real good that they want to keep me here, keep me in the meetings and learn from the veterans.”
It’s not clear when the Packers changed their plan for Guy. His contract contained a split salary in case of injury, meaning he will earn $258,000 instead of the $375,000 he would have made had he been on the 53-man roster all season.
Guy said he went through a lengthy period during which he experienced headaches and nausea but has been symptom-free since about the middle of September.
Viewed as a project after leaving school a year early, the 6-foot-4, 304-pounder didn’t turn 21 until a month before the draft. If he were on the team, he would be the second-youngest player on the roster behind only Randall Cobb, who turned 21 on Aug. 22.
“Any time you come out as young as he did, there were some things, but it wasn’t a glaring thing where it was like this guy was not ready to come out,” Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said. “You get a naturally big guy like that who’s got some strength, where we picked him, I think it was an excellent pick, and we’re hoping that we can develop him into a good player. We’re treating him like he’s on this football team. The only thing he can’t do is be at practice.”
Trgovac holds meetings in his office every day at 7 a.m. specifically for Guy and practice squad defensive lineman Johnny Jones. Guy also attends the position meeting and film session.
“He doesn’t have an injury that’s a knee, an ankle, a shoulder, so he can do a great job in the weight room working out, getting bigger and stronger, eating right, learning how to go to bed at night and get up early,” Trgovac said. “We’re not allowing him to get into a situation where he’s sleeping in. That’s one of the things that we kind of requested. A lot of (injured reserve) guys end up going home. With his age, we thought it would be beneficial for him to stick around.”
Physically, Guy is unlike any of the current defensive linemen, who are on the heavier side. He’s the longest, leanest member of the group. The Packers view him as a base 3-4 end whose best attribute could be his ability to the play the run.
“He’s got the height, the arm length to where he’s probably not going to be the best pass rusher in the world, but he’ll be able to get some push in there,” Trgovac said. “For what we’re looking for playing the run, he looked like he has a chance to be pretty good at it.”
Newhouse absent: Marshall Newhouse is expected to rejoin the team in time for today’s flight to Minnesota and will start at left tackle Sunday against the Vikings despite missing Friday’s practice for a personal matter.
Newhouse left Green Bay on Thursday evening to attend to an issue the Packers did not disclose. Still, coach Mike McCarthy, who earlier in the week called this Newhouse’s biggest challenge of the season, believes his second-year tackle got enough work to prepare for facing the NFL’s sack leader, Jared Allen.
“Marshall’s ready to play in the game Sunday,” McCarthy said. “He’s where he needs to be, with his family right now. I’m very confident in Marshall’s preparation, and I anticipate he’ll be back (today).”
Another offensive lineman, backup Ray Dominguez, also missed Friday’s practice for a personal reason.
Starting left guard Josh Sitton (knee) didn’t practice Friday but is expected to play against the Vikings.
Injury report: Despite sustaining a concussion late in Thursday’s practice, the Packers think defensive end Ryan Pickett has a good chance to play.
He was listed as questionable and didn’t practice Friday.
“Pick’s been playing real well, too,” Trgovac said. “So I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”
If there’s a week they need Pickett, it’s probably this week considering they’re facing one of the league’s premier running backs, Adrian Peterson.
“There’s no question about that,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “You need all the big guys.”
Cornerback Sam Shields, who sustained a concussion last Sunday against St. Louis, didn’t practice all week and was listed as doubtful. A decision on Shields will be made today after another medical exam.
Neal still hopeful: Defensive end Mike Neal, who hasn’t been on the field since his Aug. 16 knee injury, said Friday he remains hopeful he can play this season.
Although, as a source told the Press-Gazette earlier in the week, Neal confirmed that’s not a sure thing.
“The plan is to be able to play after the bye, but if I can’t, I can’t,” Neal said. “I can’t please everybody. I’ve got to take everything in stride and just deal with this. When it’s better, I’ll be ready to play, and hopefully it’s this season at some point.”
The Packers have their bye next week. The earliest Neal could return to practice is Oct. 31 but even then he would need more than just that week of practice to play in the first post-bye game, which is Nov. 6 at San Diego.
Neal had surgery Sept. 13 to remove loose cartilage that was discovered after several weeks of rehab and treatment didn’t improve his knee.
When asked whether he thought he would play this season, Neal said: “I don’t want to say yes; I don’t want to say no. The moment I say yes, and I don’t, then somebody’s going to be mad. I’m just leaving the book open. Only time will tell.”
Hawk fined: A league spokesman confirmed linebacker A.J. Hawk was fined $10,000 for “an obscene gesture” against the Rams. It was directed toward the Packers’ sideline, and Hawk said it was meant as a joke among teammates.
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @RobDemovsky.