Morgan Burnett was back on the practice field Monday, and for the first time since his sophomore year of high school, the Green Bay Packers fourth-year safety came without his trademark dreadlocks.
At the long-standing request of his mother, Burnett buzzed his long hair during the team’s bye week and was almost unrecognizable when he returned to the Packers’ practice field.
Long hair or short, the only thing that mattered to the Packers was Burnett was back in the fold after their recently extended safety missed a month nursing a hamstring injury that held him out of the team’s first three regular-season games.
Burnett had played in 32 consecutive regular-season games prior to the flare-up with the 24-year-old safety’s absence visible in the Packers’ first two games of the season when San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Washington’s Robert Griffin III combined to throw for 718 yards on the Packers’ defense.
Burnett practiced sparingly two weeks ago before being shut down completely before the Packers’ final game before the bye against Cincinnati. Now, he feels back to normal and plans to play Sunday against Detroit barring any setbacks.
“I feel good. I did everything, I participated with everything today,” Burnett said. “Now it’s just keep pushing forward, see how the rest of the week goes and keep taking steps forward and not having any setbacks.”
The Packers made a long-term commitment to Burnett before the season when they extended the 2010 third-round pick with a four-year contract with roughly $25 million on the heels of Burnett playing every defensive snap for the team in 2012.
Without him, the Packers have had to rely on a platoon of M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian and undrafted rookie safety Chris Banjo, who wound up starting and playing 54 or 56 defensive snaps against the Bengals.
Burnett was the only player to return to the field on Monday from the recent rash of hamstring injuries that have pelted the Packers’ locker room. Defensive backs Casey Hayward, Jarrett Bush, fullback John Kuhn and outside linebacker Clay Matthews all remained out with their respective ailment.
“It’s tough because as a competitor you want to be out there to help your team out the best way you can,” Burnett said. “It was a very humbling experience but I know that’s part of the game. Now, my main focus was to try to get back healthy and get back on the field as soon as possible."