Packers' Kenny Clark making quick recovery from high-ankle sprain

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) is carted off the field after an injury during the 4th quarter of the Green Bay Packers 23-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. on Sunday, November 19, 2017.

GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark confirmed he has a high-ankle sprain.

His presence at practice Wednesday confirmed he’s a fast healer.

High-ankle sprains can sideline players for more than a month, but Clark — who was wearing a boot last week and keeping weight off his right foot — took part in practice on a limited basis.

Clark isn’t cleared to play against Tampa Bay on Sunday and won’t play if either he or the coaches feel he can’t be effective, but the fact he was out there at all was remarkable.

Two weeks ago against Baltimore, he got caught with his ankle underneath him as Ravens center Ryan Jensen drove him backward. Clark had to be taken off the field on the cart and thought the injury was severe.

“I thought the season was over, man,” Clark said. “It was an unfortunate situation. It was ugly. My ankle was swollen. I thought it was worse than what it was, honestly. I’m happy it was a high-ankle sprain.”

After X-rays showed he had not suffered a broken bone, the medical staff started treating the swelling. Clark said he did everything he could to treat the ankle last week and had a breakthrough on Thanksgiving morning.

“I was at home just chilling with the family, got up off the bed one day, just tried to test it out, start walking and stuff,” Clark said. “(I) started walking and stuff, just playing around. It felt fine to walk. When it started feeling fine to walk, I stayed on top of it.

“Then got a chance to jog a little bit and run a little bit. The biggest thing for me was it was hard turning at first, so now it's getting better, getting better every day. I feel like it's getting better every hour.”

Clark is arguably the team’s defensive MVP this season and the Packers missed him badly Sunday in Pittsburgh. He ranks fifth on the team in tackles with 49, leads the team with 8½ quarterback pressures and has a forced fumble.

Practice Wednesday was conducted without pads and Clark was a limited participant. He’ll know more about his status Thursday when the team practices in pads and he tests whether he can play with power and anchor against double teams.

“We actually get a chance to go against each other and stuff like that,” Clark said. “It will be more of a physical day, just trying to see what it feels like taking on double-teams and using my leverage.

“I want to be able to play my game, I don't want to go out there limping around looking bad.”

Clark said that Jensen texted him after the game and told him he was not intentionally trying to hurt him despite claims from Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and cornerback Davon House to the contrary.

They claimed Jensen was pushing down on Clark even when it was clear that Clark was in a compromising position. When Clark yelled out in pain, Jensen tried to pull him out of the pile.

“I was just in a bad position,” Clark said. “I don’t know how to explain it. It was just an unfortunate situation and unfortunate position I was in and all that.

“He hit me up the next day and told me he wasn’t trying to do anything dirty. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I just let it go. It is what it is. It’s football. It happens.”

If Clark returns, the Packers are expected to have all of their regular defensive starters available against Tampa Bay. Linebacker Clay Matthews (groin) expressed optimism he would play Sunday and safety Morgan Burnett (groin) made it through the Steelers game unscathed.

Defensive lineman Quinton Dial returned from a chest injury and started in place of Clark. He played 34 snaps, mostly at nose tackle, while rookie defensive tackle Montravius Adams played 15 snaps, mostly in nickel.

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