GREEN BAY – Rookie cornerback Kevin King will have surgery to repair a shoulder injury that ended his season with a trip to injured reserve, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday.
No date has been set, but McCarthy said the decision to go ahead with surgery is why King was placed on IR. King, who tore his labrum as a college freshman at Washington, first missed practice reps with a shoulder injury in training camp. It became more problematic as the season progressed, even forcing King to miss snaps in his last game two weeks ago at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
King was unable to play last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“He’s a tough young man, no doubt about it,” McCarthy said. “He’s been dealing with it for quite some time. Just playing with the harness and trying to gut it out, I think it speaks volumes. It just obviously got to a point there where it was time to do more scans and things like that, and the decision has been made for surgery.”
Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. said King’s shoulder issue predates the season. In camp, the rookie was unable to jam with his left arm. King’s limitation using his left arm made it difficult to teach the position, Whitt said.
Regardless, King kept playing until surgery became mandatory. He played nine games and 381 snaps, representing 58 percent of the snaps in those nine games. King was a starter at one of the two perimeter corner positions in the Packers' favored nickel defense.
“He’s a tough kid because he played through it," Whitt said. "He never complained. He fought, he fought, he fought. First play of the Dallas game he hits, boom, he comes out. He goes right back in there. He’s a tough kid. No one questioned his toughness."
The Packers drafted King to eventually be their No. 1 corner. Time will tell whether he develops into one, but ending his rookie season with five games remaining isn’t beneficial. King’s rookie season ends without an interception.
Whitt said the rookie’s limitations this season prevented him from showing his full potential.
“I know what he can be,” Whitt said, “but with him not being able to throw that arm — he has a chance to be a really, really good player. Once he’ll be able to throw and control people at the line of scrimmage, the way that his length and his ability to be able to bend and move and do those types of things, once he gets that taken care of, you’re going to see a player that you’ll be really excited about. But you haven’t seen it yet.
“You haven’t really seen the real Kevin King yet.”