Josh Sitton felt his toe "pop" midway through the second half against the New Orleans Saints. The pain was immediate, dulled only by his adrenaline.
"It hurt," the Green Bay Packers left guard said while sitting at his locker Wednesday. "But, I mean, once you're out there and you're going, you fight through it."
Sitton finished the game two Sunday nights ago in New Orleans. The pain never went away.
After missing practice Wednesday – a rarity for one of the toughest players in Green Bay's locker room – Sitton said he has a torn ligament in his left big toe.
Sitton said he was pass blocking when his toe "went in a bad direction." He blamed the Superdome turf. More than half of NFL fields have a grass surface.
"Playing on turf ain't no fun," Sitton said. "I definitely don't like the turf. It beats your body up. I noticed pretty much every time I play on turf, I do something (painful). So it's no Bueno."
He's thankful for the bye week.
Sitton wouldn't say for sure whether he'd miss a game if the Packers played last weekend, but he admitted it would've been "extremely difficult." His toe was swollen most of last week, pain worsening and fading day to day.
"It's an injury after the fact," McCarthy said. "You take your hat off for him to finish the game. The fact he played through that was very impressive."
With right guard T.J. Lang (ankle) also missing practice Wednesday from an injury in New Orleans, Green Bay could be without its two starting guards when the Chicago Bears visit Lambeau Field.
Sitton doesn't know whether he'll be able to play Sunday. Perhaps the biggest factor he must consider is whether playing this week risks further injury to his toe.
"That's something I want to talk to doc about toward the end of the week," Sitton said. "That's something he said we'll discuss. Depending on how I'm feeling and how much progress I've made, we'll see if it's just pain or if I can do more damage."
Sitton, a seventh-year veteran, said he doesn't necessarily have to practice during the week to be able to play Sunday. He'd prefer practice reps – "that's how I sharpen my ax," he said – but the Bears are a familiar divisional opponent. For the most part, Sitton knows what to expect from Chicago.
The question is whether he can be effective on an injured, big toe. Sitton said it's especially problematic being his left foot, which is his plant leg.
"It makes it a little more difficult," Sitton said. "We're just kind of seeing how it goes."
It'll also be interesting to see how his toe injury affects his role in Green Bay's offense. The Packers like to use Sitton for pull blocks, which requires mobility.
Sitton expects to test his toe Thursday. He'll judge how much mobility he has in shoes. Later this week, Sitton said he hopes to be able to practice, even if it's limited.
There's a chance Sitton could wear an orthotic in his shoe, he said. The extra reinforcement would provide more stability for his toe.
"We're going to figure out footwear (Thursday)," Sitton said.
Sitton knows the Packers have limited options on the offensive line, even with JC Tretter returning from injured reserve this week. Regardless, he said Lang's availability won't affect his decision on whether to play.
"I was telling him not long ago, I feel like we always (have) sympathy pains for each other," Sitton said. "His right hip hurts, my right hip starts hurting. He hurts an ankle, I hurt a foot. He needs to stay healthy, dammit."
One silver lining is Sitton's place on the offensive line. A torn, toe ligament could require season-ending surgery for skill players, he said. Speed is significantly less important for a guard. With fewer cuts, there's less stress on the toe.
Sitton said the medical staff doesn't expect surgery to be necessary. He anticipates playing through the rest of the season, despite the injury. In the meantime, his willingness to gut it out against the Saints earned even more respect from teammates.
"Tough guy, to put it politically correct. He's extremely tough," rookie center Corey Linsley said. "That's a heck of a challenge to play through a toe injury. And people are like, 'Yeah, it's just a toe.' You have no idea how big you have to adjust yourself to play with whatever he's got with his toe.
"It's obviously, for him to be held out of practice, he's a tough guy and he wants to go. That shows you that we want to get him back. We want to make sure that this thing is right. That's how critical a toe is to an offensive lineman. I don't want anybody to act like it's not a big deal."
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