Andrew Quarless’ mindset never wavered.
The first day of the regular season the third-year tight end felt he could’ve played and the same held true to when the Green Bay Packers finally placed Quarless on injured reserve last week due of persistent swelling in his surgically reconstructed knee.
However, the 6-foot-4, 252-pound tight end knew the truth deep down and understood the gravity of the gruesome injury he sustained against the New York Giants a little more than one year ago when he tore both the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament in his right leg with his parents in attendance.
The 24-year-old Quarless achieved his first goal when he returned off the physically unable to perform list last month, but never was able to dress in a game because of the knee, which may still require arthroscopic surgery to help clean out whatever’s been causing the inflammation.
“I know I could’ve pushed through, finished the stretch, finished the season, but it was definitely something that was going to bother me,” Quarless said. “It’s one of those things coming off a knee injury where you’re always going to have some little thing in there. How many MRIs you’re going to get, but it’s tough to know what’s really going on.”
The Packers placed Quarless on injured reserve last week while opening up roster spots for recently promoted running back DuJuan Harris and wide receiver Jeremy Ross with Quarless turning his attention to next season when he hopes to make a full recovery in hopes of restarting his career.
After starting three games his rookie year and catching 21 passes for 238 yards, Quarless only had three receptions in 10 games last year, but saw his role expand as arguably the team’s best blocking tight end.
When he returned to practice, Quarless could tell he wasn’t at full speed. He wouldn’t go as far to call himself a step closer, but maybe a half or a quarter. With his on-field season over, Quarless plans to stick around Green Bay and take part in tight-end meetings while setting his sights a return on next season.
When that day finally arrives, Quarless hopes to come back a year wiser.
“It’s definitely a year that I can’t get back, but a year where I know you grow,” Quarless said. “Physically, as a player, it tests you to see how much you can push, how much pain you can take, it’s stuff I’ve never really faced in my life.
“For the rest of the year, I’ll just do what I’ve been doing. Just trying to be a great teammate and trying to help out my fellow tight ends as best I can and just try to make an impact.”
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