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Richardson's neck injury career threatening

Ryan Wood
USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Dan Powers/P-G Media/@powrpics Packers cornerbacks Sean Richardson (28) and Demetri Goodson (39) celebrate a defensive play against the Seattle Seahawks. Green Bay Packers cornerback Sean Richardson (28) celebrates a defensive play with Green Bay Packers cornerback Demetri Goodson (39) against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau FIeld Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015.

Green Bay Packers safety Sean Richardson's playing days could be over after a neck injury that will not only cost him the rest of the 2015 season, but also could end his career.

Richardson's injury is similar to a herniated disc he suffered in 2012, a league source confirmed to Press-Gazette Media on Friday evening. His injury in 2012 required fusion surgery of the C-5 and C-6 vertebrae.

The Packers listed Richardson as "out" for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams. He was a full participant at Wednesday's practice, but was listed as limited during Thursday's padded practice and a non-participant Friday.

It took Richardson one day short of a full year to return to the field after his first neck injury. The re-injury is expected to force early retirement, according to the source.

The Packers have traditionally been extremely cautious with any player after suffering a neck injury. They never cleared safety Nick Collins and tight end Jermichael Finley after herniated discs at the C-3 and C-4 levels of their vertebrae, ending their careers.

Richardson, undrafted out of Vanderbilt in 2012, had blossomed into a key special teams player and backup safety in the Packers' defense. The Packers matched a $2.55 million offer sheet Richardson signed with the Oakland Raiders this offseason, a sign of his value to the team. He played 48 defensive snaps with two tackles through the season's first four games, and he also had a special teams tackle.

rwood@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood