Packers rookie linebacker Kamal Martin sidelined after knee surgery
GREEN BAY - Kamal Martin’s promising preseason came to an end this week when the Green Bay Packers rookie linebacker had knee surgery, a source confirmed to PackersNews.
Martin had worked his way up the Packers' depth chart, getting reps alongside veteran Christian Kirksey with the first team, and appeared poised to be a significant part of the Packers’ defense beginning with the Sept. 13 opener at the Minnesota Vikings.
Now Martin is expected to miss several weeks, though he could be a candidate to return from injured reserve if the Packers include him on their initial 53-man roster at the end of this week.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur refused to confirm Martin had surgery during his call with the media before Wednesday’s practice.
“We’ll put out an injury report next Wednesday,” LaFleur said.
ESPN was first to report Martin’s knee surgery. NFL Network reported surgery was Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus, and that Martin is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
The Packers cut short their lengthy scrimmage Sunday inside Lambeau Field, with LaFleur deciding to cancel a two-minute period because “a couple of guys got nicked up” in the practice.
“It wasn’t worth it at that point for me,” LaFleur said.
A source told PackersNews that Martin’s knee injury happened in Sunday’s scrimmage.
Martin’s final college season was curtailed by a nagging knee injury. He missed five games, including the team’s Outback Bowl win against Auburn, and needed surgery. ESPN reported Martin’s surgery this week was on his left knee, not the right knee that needed surgery after last season.
Martin said it wasn’t until around draft time this spring that his knee felt healthy, and it was apparent during camp with how the rookie moved on the field.
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“The knee is feeling really good,” Martin said last week. “It feels good getting back out there. It’s been since last November since I’ve been able to run around and stuff like that. It’s feeling really good.”
The Packers’ depth chart at inside linebacker was already thinned with injuries. Oren Burks, after slipping on the depth chart, missed last week with an undisclosed injury. Curtis Bolton, a promising rookie in camp last season before tearing his ACL, remains on the physically unable to perform list. That leaves Ty Summers as the lone inside linebacker with any experience next to Kirksey.
As a rookie, Martin would have entered this season unproven in the NFL. But Martin was quickly carving a role for himself before injury.
“The first thing that jumps out,” LaFleur said, “is he’s a long, athletic guy. He’s very intelligent, he works hard at it. It’s going to come down to getting those reps and feeling comfortable in there and knowing what to do so he can go showcase that athleticism on Sundays.”
Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray isn’t worried about safety Raven Greene’s undisclosed injury. He said Greene will be ready for the Minnesota game.
“Raven is a good football player,” Gray said. “He’ll be ready to go come Sunday. My deal is he’s a smart guy, he understands what his role is on the team.”
Gray said he won’t get caught short if there are injuries in the secondary. He plans to have the entire group ready to play because defensive coordinator Mike Pettine loves to play five and six defensive backs at a time.
“I learned this a long time ago, don’t let one guy take you out of your package,” Gray said. “The biggest thing we do is make sure we rep the other guys there and there’s two or three guys that we’ve been repping.”