Andrew Datko says he’s back to playing about at the level he did as a junior in college, before a recurring shoulder injury ruined his senior season.
The Packers’ seventh-round draft pick this year was on course to be a four-year starter at left tackle for Florida State, but four games into his senior season he injured his left shoulder, which ended his season and eventually required surgery last November. He’d injured the shoulder multiple times, and originally had surgery on it in high school.
The surgery prevented Datko from doing the bench-press test at the NFL scouting combine last February, and he said it was about that time he was able to perform regular weight-lifting workouts rather than rehabilitation work. He took part in the Packers’ offseason workout program beginning shortly after the draft.
Datko has worked at both tackles with the No. 2 offense in training camp and especially struggled when the pads went on in the first week of camp, most notably in the one-on-one pass blocking drill. He said he’s in effect had to re-learn left-arm skills such as punching with his left hand in pass blocking.
“It’s getting back up to that level (of his junior season),” Datko said of his play. “You see something and you think, ‘Oh yeah, that happens, and you go through your (mental) library again of what you see.”
Datko is likely to play at both tackle positions with the backups in the Packers’ opener at San Diego on Thursday.
“(The shoulder) feels good,” Datko said. “All the strength is there and everything. It’s just for two years I haven’t used it, so it’s just getting in the habit of using it again.”
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