GREEN BAY - Jared Cook felt the “sharp” pain in the bottom of his foot around the third week of organized team activities, and he kept running. Kept cutting. Kept practicing.
The Green Bay Packers' new tight end didn’t think his injury was serious. He still doesn’t. Cook said he practiced for “about a week” before letting the team’s medical staff know. So, yes, Cook was surprised when team doctors suggested “preventative” surgery. Though, Cook said, he made the final decision.
Better to go under the knife in late June than early November.
“No, it wasn’t anything serious,” Cook said Tuesday after the Packers' first training camp practice, which he watched as one of six players on the physically unable to perform list. “It was just, they didn’t want it to prolong and something happen later on down the road in season. … I’d just be rather safe than sorry.”
Cook didn’t have a timetable for his return, but it is unlikely to be imminent. A league source said Cook, the Packers' lone offseason free-agent acquisition, could be on track to return by preseason’s second week. That would mean Cook would miss not only the Hall of Fame
Game against the Indianapolis Colts but also the first two weeks of training camp, his team’s most critical practices.
Of course, the Packers play an extra preseason game this year. Even if Cook didn’t return until the Packers' preseason home opener Aug. 12 against the Cleveland Browns, he still could play a full slate of four preseason games.
“I think the extra week will take care of that,” coach Mike McCarthy said when asked how Cook can avoid falling too far behind, “and so he looks good. Everything was positive. So, he’s a pro. I’m not concerned.”
If he was in Los Angeles with the Rams, his absence wouldn’t be an issue. Cook is an eighth-year veteran. He has reached the stage in his career where coaches and quarterbacks give him their trust.
In Green Bay, he’s the new kid in school. The offense is unfamiliar. Cook said he pays attention in practice, studying Aaron Rodgers’ presnap signals and cadence. Still, nothing builds chemistry between a tight end and quarterback like practice reps.
“I don’t want to put more urgency on it,” Rodgers said, “but it’s important that he gets out there at some point.”
For Cook, it’s a situation he hasn’t faced before. He has been durable over his first seven seasons, missing only five games. He never missed a game in three seasons with the Rams.
Perhaps the biggest adjustment, Cook said, will be blocking. Without live reps, he’ll have to knock the rust off on the fly. Cook knows he’ll benefit returning to the field sooner than later.
“Whether we’re in a new system or not,” Cook said, “you want to be out there on the field. That’s where you have the most fun. That’s what you’re basically bred to do. It’s not fun being separated from everybody and doing special drills to get you back. You want to be out there having fun with your teammates, but it’s just something I have to endure now so later on it’ll be better.”