GREEN BAY — Offensive lineman Matt Rotheram suffered a biceps injury in the first exhibition game against the Cleveland Browns. He left the game late in the first half and did not return.
On Sunday, Rotheram arrived at practice with his left arm in a sling.
"It’s pretty rough," Rotheram said. "It’s pretty tight. I’m almost locked in this position because if I tried to extend my arm I wouldn’t be able to do it."
The injury occurred on a zone running play late in the second quarter. As Rotheram and the rest of the offensive line moved right, a linebacker cut in behind, near Rotheram's left shoulder. He reached back with his left arm to impede linebacker, and that's when the damage was done. The opposing player ran through his arm and stretched it backward in an unnatural position.
Rotheram would not say whether the biceps is torn.
"It’s really hard to say right now because there’s such a variance in the soft tissues," Rotheram said. "Sometimes guys pull a hamstring and they’re back in two weeks. Sometimes you miss four months.
"I had MRIs but I think they’re going to do more. I really can't say yet though."
The physical appearance of Rotheram's arm had improved since Friday's game, when the training staff sent him home with an ice machine. At it's worst, the muscle bulged and the arm swelled to the point where Rotheram compared it to the circumference of his calf.
By Sunday, though, the visible bruising was reduced.
"I’m hoping I won’t get surgery because that would be a season-ender, and that’s obvious," Rotheram said. "I think it looks better than it did."
Rotheram spent the 2015 season on the practice squad after signing with the Packers as an undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh. At 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds, he played almost exclusively at guard, and the organization was intrigued by his potential. In early December the Packers upped his base salary to $435,000, which increased his weekly paycheck from $6,600 to $25,588.
It was the type of raise typically offered when a player on the practice squad receives an offer to join the 53-man roster of another team.
Prior to the injury, Rotheram spent the 2016 training camp splitting his playing time between guard and center. He struggled through the first few weeks of practice and looked overmatched at times in the one-on-one pass rush drill. His performance in team periods was inconsistent.
The injury to Rotheram compounded a lack of depth at the center position. Starter Corey Linsley remains on the PUP list with a hamstring problem, and undrafted free agent Jacob Flores is sidelined by a knee issue. It left the Packers with just two healthy centers: JC Tretter and Don Barclay.
Which is why the Packers signed center Kyle Steuck on Sunday morning. Steuck, a Green Bay native who played at West De Pere High School, participated in rookie minicamp with the Packers but did not receive a contract offer at the time.
Steuck played collegiately at Northern Michigan.