Packers safety Kentrell Brice pleased with progress after ankle surgery
GREEN BAY - When the Green Bay Packers hosted the Chicago Bears last September, safety Kentrell Brice rolled his right ankle. A Bears player simultaneously stepped on his ankle, Brice said. It hurt a lot, but Brice kept playing.
For four more weeks.
“It’s football,” he said. “You’re going to have pain. So you just have to deal with it.”
Playing hurt is part of football, but playing injured can be problematic. Brice, who has fought for every snap after going undrafted in 2016, needed something worse than a sore ankle to stay on the sidelines.
Or so he thought.
A week after Chicago, Brice only played 28 snaps (37.8 percent) against the Dallas Cowboys. He then played 75 snaps (97.4 percent) against the Minnesota Vikings, and 73 snaps (96.1) against the New Orleans Saints. During the ensuing bye week, Brice was finally placed on injured reserve.
That’s when Brice said he learned his ankle injury wasn’t merely a mild sprain, but a torn deltoid ligament. He needed surgery, which he described Tuesday as “ankle reconstruction,” to repair the deltoid (a band of major ligaments in the ankle) and scope bone fragments. Brice said Packers team doctor Robert Anderson did the surgery in late November, almost two months after the initial injury.
Brice said his ankle is still sore, but he’s already back at practice. He participated in team reps during Tuesday’s first day of minicamp. By training camp, Brice said he expects no limitations.
His return to practice is ahead of schedule, Brice said. It wasn’t easy to get back to the field so quickly. After last season ended, it took a few weeks before Brice could put weight on his ankle. Shortly after, Brice said, he began a rehab schedule that included four hours of working out for five days each week.
“Everybody told me to be patient,” Brice said, “but I’m a headstrong person. So I try to attack it head on. Sometimes, I’m my own worst enemy. So I had to force myself to be patient sometimes when they told me to. So that was a hard time for me, because I like to go full go with everything I do.''
Brice was eager to return to the field, knowing a starting spot opened the moment veteran Morgan Burnett signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency. Before his injury, Brice was a key part of the Packers' defense, exceeding 90 percent of defensive snaps in half of his six games.
He doesn’t believe his ankle will prevent him from returning to a significant role.
“I’m coming back,” Brice said, “and I’m fighting as hard as I can. I feel like I’m playing better than ever, honestly. Here and there, you might feel an ankle tweak or something like that, but it comes along with it when I’m only seven months after surgery. So I’m ahead of my time schedule. I’m able to practice, and I’m able to play. So I feel pretty good about it.”