Notes: Oren Burks says no surgery for pectoral injury; Aaron Rodgers mulls helmet choice
GREEN BAY – Two days after Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Oren Burks suffered a left pectoral injury in a game against the Houston Texans, he was telling teammates he was done for the season.
Burks assumed he would need surgery to repair a torn muscle.
But Burks received a second opinion from a specialist and said Tuesday he was told surgery would not be necessary and he would be able to return this season. It doesn’t appear it will be necessary to put him on injured reserve.
“It’s just a blessing,” he said.
Burks stuck his left arm out to make a tackle and got driven backwards on the play in which he was injured.
“It was a weird situation,” he said.
He said the collision hyperextended the muscle so he’s dealing with a soft-tissue injury that could require some time to heal.
“Just take it day by day and see how the recovery goes, see how long I’ll be out,” Burks said when asked if there was a timetable for his return.
General manager Brian Gutekunst indicated that Burks might not be out that long, although he also would not put a timetable on his return. Gutekunst said he was not thinking about adding an inside linebacker because he didn’t think it was necessary.
“I’m really hoping that Oren’s thing is going to be short term.,” Gutekunst said. “We’ll get him back here quicker than I think, but right now, I’d just kind of like to get through this next game and kind of see where we’re at, see where Oren’s at.
“We kind of get up every morning and look and see where we’re at. There were some pretty good performances in that first game and I want to see, can they take the next step?”
Gutekunst was referring to the performances of rookies Curtis Bolton and Ty Summers and first-year pro, Brady Sheldon. Bolton has been filling in at Burks’ weakside position with the No. 1 defense while Summers is working behind Blake Martinez at the Mike spot.
Summers had 10 tackles against the Texans, but also missed some tackles. Sheldon had two tackles, a quarterback hit and should have had an interception. Bolton had two tackles and a pass break-up.
Burks, a third-round pick last season, suffered a dislocated left shoulder in camp last year that affected his transition to a true inside linebacker from a hybrid spot at Vanderbilt. He was working as a starter throughout camp until his injury.
Rodgers not retiring over helmet
Aaron Rodgers, stuck between two choices, said he still hasn’t decided which helmet he’ll wear in 2019.
What’s clear: He won’t retire if the helmet he prefers to wear is deemed illegal.
Rodgers, who previously wore a Schutt AiR XP Pro helmet, was among a small group of players who had to change helmets this offseason for safety reasons. Oakland Raiders receiver Antonio Brown also was forced to stop wearing his Schutt AiR XP Advantage helmet, which prompted him to threaten retirement.
“There’s a connection to a helmet, for sure,” Rodgers said. “I loved my helmet, and every one that I’ve worn. I don’t know that I would want to retire if I couldn’t wear my helmet. I obviously didn’t because I’m here today. I’m sure he can find one that he really likes.”
Despite that connection players feel to a particular helmet, Rodgers said “it’s not difficult at all” to transition to new headgear. The way helmets are made now, Rodgers said, engineers are able to mold the interior padding to a players’ head.
“The fit is spectacular,” Rodgers said.
He’s deciding between another Schutt model and a VICIS helmet. Rodgers has invested money into VICIS and bought helmets for area high schools near his hometown in Chico, Calif.
“Because I believe in the product,” Rodgers said. “The last two years (they) have the safest helmet on the market.”
Kizer playing clean
Among the positives from a solid preseason debut against the Houston Texans, Packers quarterback DeShone Kizer didn’t have a turnover.
That has been an issue for Kizer in the past. In the locker room after the exhibition, Kizer mentioned specifically how every drive ended with a kick, meaning the Packers either scored or were able to punt without giving the Texans a short field.
Before the opener, general manager Brian Gutekunst said he was looking for his backup quarterbacks to play what he termed “winning football.” That Kizer was clean, he said, fell in line with the GM’s expectations.
“Before you win the game,” Gutekunst said, “you can’t lose it, right? I think that’s the biggest thing – can you manage the game and keep your chances alive?”
Kizer and fellow backup Tim Boyle, who also had no turnovers against the Texans, will get another chance to play clean Thursday night at the Baltimore Ravens. It will be the debut for Aaron Rodgers and the starting offense, but Gutekunst will be closely monitoring the backup quarterback landscape.
“It’s kind of stacking successes, right?” Gutekunst said. “That was a good first start and kind of see what they do. I think in camp each and every day is another day. We’re just looking for consistency. Who can we rely on? Who can be dependable?”
Bohanon beefs up fullback position
With the only two fullbacks on his roster injured, Packers coach Matt LaFleur needed some help.
Gutekunst got him some Monday.
The Packers signed unrestricted free agent Tommy Bohanon, a former Jacksonville Jaguars fullback who played under new Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett the last two seasons. The 6-1, 247-pound Bohanon is a true blocking fullback and much bigger than 6-foot, 239-pound Danny Vitale and 6-1, 231-pound Malcolm Johnson.
The addition of Bohanon became necessary when Johnson suffered a groin injury late last week and Vitale dropped out of practice Sunday with a calf injury.