Packers coach Matt LaFleur determined to 'make the best' out of Achilles injury
APPLETON – Matt LaFleur sent Davante Adams a late-morning message Saturday, asking his star wide receiver if the annual charity softball game at Neuroscience Group Field was still on. The new Green Bay Packers head coach was supposed to deliver the ceremonial first pitch for the Green and Gold game captained by Adams and linebacker Blake Martinez.
Adams said yes and sure enough, LaFleur walked out onto the field to fulfill his commitment just a day before he's scheduled to have surgery to repair a torn left Achilles suffered Wednesday while playing basketball at Lambeau Field.
“We’re all going to face a little bit of adversity,” LaFleur told PackersNews.com. “You can’t let it hold us back. So that’s just kind of like my mindset, you know? It is what it is and you make the best out of whatever situation comes.”
A day after sustaining the injury, LaFleur was on a cart overseeing practice.
LaFleur had never gotten hurt playing in high school or college, but he knew right away that something bad happened Wednesday night.
“A couple weeks ago I kind of tweaked my calf on the other side,” he said with a smile. “But this one, I knew immediately. It was way more forceful. I thought somebody hit me in the leg. I looked around and nobody’s by me. It’s just one of those deals. We’ll rebound. We’ll be back.”
LaFleur will undergo surgery Sunday. A full recovery could take as long as six months.
“That was a rough one to kind of let set in, but he’s a competitor,” Martinez said of LaFleur's injury. “We’ll kind of see how it adapts throughout these next couple months. It’ll be good to see him fight through some adversity.”
Adams said one of LaFleur’s most emphasized messages this offseason was having his players participate in more off-the-field, team-building events, and having at least half of the 90-man roster appear Saturday drove that point home for the new coach. That followed a Friday night gathering of a handful of players at a Professional Bull Riding event at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
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“I think the one thing I’ve learned just in the short period that we’ve been together is that we do have a bunch of good, high-character people,” LaFleur said. “That’s what I think everything is about. That’s how you build great teams. It pumps me up when I see all these guys get together and get out and do something good for the community.”
While the softball game is an annual activity for members of the Packers, the head coach’s appearance only drove that message home more.
“It’s something that really coach LaFleur has been pushing a lot this offseason,” Adams said. “We’ve been doing a lot more than we have in the past as far as getting together and doing different activities, events, bowling. It’s a regular thing, guys meeting up. We’ve got a lot of new guys, new coaches and a lot of stuff going on so we're all trying to get on the same page. One of the best ways is doing stuff away from the field. We can be on the practice field all day getting to know each other’s style of play, but this thing goes deeper than in-between the lines. So it’s enjoyable to get out here.”
As for how the injury may affect LaFleur’s high-energy on-field presence as a coach, Adams said he doesn’t think it will keep LaFleur from getting his teaching points across to the offense.
“He was out there on his golf cart the other day so he was still pretty mobile,” Adams said. “He was still rolling up next to me and coaching up and doing the same things. I don’t think it’s really going to stop him too much from the way he kind of does things. He’s always around. And it’s a good thing. It’s a good way to get a feel for the type of guy he is.
"It obviously shows how much the game means to him and with being an offense that he’s really comfortable with and been in for a while, he sees it a certain way. He sees it, so it’s not always, he’ll come up to me saying ‘I need you to run this better’ but asking me how I feel about things and just interacting and stuff like that. I see it being pretty consistent.”