On the sideline, Andrew Quarless recognized the pain in his knee.
Kansas City Chiefs rookie cornerback Marcus Peters had undercut Quarless in the open field. Was it a dirty hit? Quarless said he’ll leave that for others to determine, but the Green Bay Packers tight end wasn’t trying to decide as he limped to the sideline, then to the locker room.
It wasn’t the same knee that cost him all of the 2012 season with a torn ACL, Quarless said, but the pain felt similar. Instead, MRI results showed Quarless had a sprained MCL.
“I’m definitely grateful that it’s not an ACL,” Quarless said in Thursday in his first public comments since the injury. “I was a little nervous on the sideline. I walked into the locker room, and I was a little nervous, but like I said, I’m thankful. It could’ve been a lot worse.”
The Packers placed Quarless on temporary injured reserve last week. A team can use the designation on one player each season, per NFL rules. Quarless will be inactive for eight weeks, meaning the earliest he can come back is the Packers’ game against the Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving night at Lambeau Field.
Again, it could’ve been worse. Quarless knows the Packers didn’t have to use their one temporary IR designation on him. He said director of player personnel Eliot Wolf came to him after the injury and let him know the team’s plans.
“It’s very humbling,” Quarless said. “We had a nice conversation, and he said, ‘We’re looking forward to you coming back.’ He said, ‘Take care of yourself. It gives you a chance not to rush things.’ Sometimes with injuries, guys tend to rush things and reinjure themselves. One of the main things was, ‘Take your time, get healed, and we’ll be ready for you to come back.’”
Even before the injury, Quarless didn’t play a major role in the Packers’ offense. He had just two catches for 14 yards this season, and they were the only two passes thrown his way.
But the Packers were thin at the tight end position, even before Quarless was placed on temporary injured reserve. They have only two on the 53-man roster: second-year starter Richard Rodgers and sixth-round rookie Kennard Backman.
Backman was activated on the 46-man game day roster for the first time against the San Francisco 49ers. Quarless said he’s helped mentor the rookie early this year.
“I told him, ‘It’s time,’” Quarless said. “Me and him talked actually before the game, the Kansas City game, he didn’t dress for the first three games, and I shared my experiences with him. My rookie year, I didn’t dress the first two games. So I told him, ‘Any moment your number could be called,’ and after that happened with me, I came to him after the game and said, ‘It’s time.’ It’s all motivation. I’m a veteran in that room and any help I can be, I try to.”
While he’d prefer to be on the field, Quarless enjoyed what the Packers continued to accomplish Sunday. With a win against the 49ers, the Packers improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2011.
He’d like to the streak to be intact when he returns.
“I hope we’re undefeated,” Quarless said. “I think we will be. We’ve been playing real good. We’ve had a great start and I think them guys are really going to step it up and keeping it going.”
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