GREEN BAY - Jason Spriggs felt like he could’ve played football a couple weeks ago, but he had to wait. The NFL’s injured reserve rules prohibited the Green Bay Packers' second-year tackle from practicing for six weeks, no matter how he felt.
It didn’t stop Spriggs from working through drills on his own.
“Yeah, it sucks,” Spriggs said of the wait after his hamstring healed, which took about four weeks. “Any time you think you can go and you’re not allowed to, it’s never fun. But at the same time, when I was able to move around and do some things, that’s when I started going to the field other than practice. Just getting sets out there, hitting the sled and stuff like that.”
Spriggs hopes it will help him quickly return to the field. The Packers used one of their two designations to return from injured reserve on Spriggs. A full practice participant, he’s eligible to be added to the active roster before the Packers' home game against the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 19.
With the Packers' depleted depth chart at tackle earlier this season, placing Spriggs on injured reserve was a practical decision. Spriggs said it also helped him prevent a much more serious injury.
“I pulled my hamstring high up,” Spriggs said. “Up by the tendon there. Any time you pull it high, if you re-pull it there’s a chance of it coming off the bone, and that turns into, like, a year recovery. Whereas if you get it low, maybe re-pull it, it’ll just add a week or whatever it is.
“You have to be more cautious with it when it’s up high.”
Spriggs, a second-round pick last season, said he got stronger in his six weeks away from the field. He added five pounds and is up to 307.
His hope is that he’s ready to play as soon as he’s activated, even if he’ll be the top backup behind left tackle David Bakhtiari and right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
“I don’t feel completely rusty right now,” Spriggs said. “So I don’t think it’s going to take me more than a couple more days to get back in the swing of things.”
Injury update: Coach Mike McCarthy said he first discussed tight end Martellus Bennett’s shoulder injury after the Packers' practice Tuesday, and he’s still learning about it.
Bennett was an unexpected addition to the Packers' injury report this week, listed with a shoulder injury. He did not practice Thursday or Friday, putting his availability in doubt for Monday night’s game against the Detroit Lions.
“He’s going through the evaluation process right now,” McCarthy said. “Still gathering information on his shoulder.”
Bennett was one of four players on the 53-man roster to not participate in Friday’s padded practice, joining outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (back), inside linebacker Joe Thomas (ankle) and defensive lineman Quinton Dial.
Brooks has not played since the Packers' win at Dallas in early October, but McCarthy indicated his recovery is on the right track.
“The report (Thursday) was positive,” McCarthy said Friday. “I’m not sure exactly how far we’re going to get today. I know he will start with the rehab group, then hopefully progress into the practice phase. So we’ll see how that goes.”
The Packers had their entire offense available at practice, and they’ll be getting additional reinforcement soon from Spriggs.
“He’s coming off the IR,” McCarthy said, “and the chance to get back at it. I think it’s obvious what we went through at the tackle position. So it would be great to get him back out there at some point.”
All systems go: In addition to being a full participant in Friday’s padded practice, Packers safety Morgan Burnett was back wearing the radio helmet.
The Packers had a number of communication problems on defense during Burnett’s two-game absence due to a hamstring injury. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix wore the helmet while Burnett was gone.
Burnett said the communication works when everyone is participating.
“I never look at it as an individual job,” Burnett said. “We all have to do that. We’ve got guys who know the defense inside and out.”