The feel-good story took a wrong turn for Green Bay Packers rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis last month.
In his home state, the former University of Wisconsin receiver couldn't wait to start his pro career. The Wautoma native looked good in training camp, seemingly on his way to making the roster. Then, as has been the case too many times, an injury derailed him.
Abbrederis won't play this season as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in the first couple of days of camp. Still, his nameplate remains fixed above a locker at Lambeau Field. Each day, he comes to work to get better — and not just with his knee.
He attends meetings, watches film, studies the playbook. He shares tips when he can. Despite being on injured reserve, Abbrederis said he still feels part of the team.
In this week's Q&A with Press-Gazette Media, Abbrederis talks about where he is on the road to recovery and how he's spent his time these past two months.
First of all, how's your knee?
Abbrederis: It's good. Feeling good. I'm a little ahead of recovery, so that's good. Ahead of schedule. I've just got to keep taking it day by day and improve each day.
Where are you, exactly, in your recovery process?
Abbrederis: It's hard to say where I'm at because it's all trying to get back for next year. So it's really not like we're in a hurry. But, obviously, I'm in a hurry myself because I'd rather be back as fast as possible. I think we'll see. It's just a progression we have to follow. Probably in a month or two, I'll probably be able to start running again. You just have to take it slow and let it heal up.
How agonizing has it been to wait and not be able to play?
Abbrederis: Yeah, it's just tough not being out there. But there's positives in everything. So, being able to learn the playbook, learn the defense, being able to play faster hopefully when I get back because of that. There's good with the bad. You've just got to find it.
What are you doing to stay up to speed?
Abbrederis: I'm here all day, so I'm getting the same meetings and things like that. I'm staying real active with that. Doing some extra film study, things like that, just to help the team out. It's been good so far.
How far has your knowledge of the playbook come in the last couple months?
Abbrederis: I feel real comfortable with it. Obviously, it's different when you're out there. You've got to make game-time decisions. So we'll see how that goes. Right now, I feel real comfortable with it. I could go out there and run all the plays, get the checks and signals and things like that. It all changes when you're out on the field, so we'll see what happens.
Does it help being so close to home while you go through something as grueling as recovering from a torn ACL?
Abbrederis: Yeah, I mean, it's great being close to family. They can come up for the games. So it's good to be able to see them, and have that encouragement. My wife here, that obviously helps, too. Just having that stability at home, it's great to be here. I feel the love of this state, the support. It's awesome.
During this time when you're unable to play, what's been your game day routine?
Abbrederis: I still come to games on the home games, and then away games just watch it whether it's home with my family or just with my wife. It's definitely different. First year in a long time that I haven't been able to play. It's different, but I'm still here, part of the team. It definitely feels good to be involved a little bit.
You've dealt with injuries at every level — concussions in college, knee injury in high school. Does an injury like this change your perspective on football, make you appreciate the game anymore?
Abbrederis: Yeah, I mean, you never know what comes your way, what can happen in the future. You just take it day by day. I've had injuries before, so you kind of understand that's just part of the day. You've just got to keep your head high, just keep coming back and fighting.
Do those past experiences help settle the natural unrest you might have while recovering from an injury like this?
Abbrederis: Yeah, I mean, I've come back before. So it definitely gives me confidence that I'll be able to come back from this one. I think that helps out a lot.
As a young guy, who's been most supportive to you inside the locker room?
Abbrederis: I think all the guys in the room. Just being around those guys all the time, they do a good job making me feel involved. Like I said, watching the film and trying to give guys some pointers and things like that. Doing some homework for them. I think just being around those guys, and feeling like I'm part of the group, that definitely helps me a lot.
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