Finally, John Crockett had his chance.
The Green Bay Packers' undrafted running back was taking reps with quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Tuesday during the first day of minicamp. These are the reps that count, the chance to show what a player can do on the same field with the NFL MVP.
Crockett left the backfield on a passing route. He planted his foot, tried to make a cut, but his left ankle slipped.
"I couldn't really fall backward," Crockett said, "because there was a guy behind me. So I kind of had to fall straight down, and fell right on the ankle. It got caught. It's just a freak accident."
Crockett missed the second half of Tuesday's practice and all of Thursday's final day of minicamp with what he called a sprained left ankle. He limped badly around the field both days, with an ice pack wrapped around his ankle Tuesday and some variation of a walking boot Thursday.
The Packers have six weeks until they open training camp July 30. Crockett said he'll be ready for the first practice, that there's nothing broken in his foot or ankle. Still, it was a disappointing end to organized team activities.
"You want to finish," Crockett said. "That's kind of what I like to pride myself on, is finishing. The OTA period, I felt like I came out, I competed really well. I kind of showcased my talent in ways that I could, and just coming to the minicamp, now I get bumped out.
"You get the first couple plays in there with big No. 12, and then you come down and got to deal with a broken wing."
If Crockett is healthy for training camp, he's expected to factor heavily in the third running back battle. Rajion Neal, undrafted out of Tennessee last season, is the likely frontrunner to land on the Packers' depth chart behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks.
Entering the summer, it's still an open competition.
After going undrafted out of North Dakota State, Crockett said he signed with the Packers because he believed the team would give him a fair opportunity to earn a roster spot. Yes, he looked at the depth chart and noticed the opening for a third tailback.
Even more, Crockett said, he looked at the roster and noticed cornerback Sam Shields, outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott, defensive tackle Mike Pennel and several other undrafted players who made last season's 53-man roster.
Since Ted Thompson became general manager in 2005, the Packers have had at least one undrafted rookie make the roster. No team has had more snaps from undrafted players during that time. For Crockett, that's tangible evidence he'll have a chance to crack the depth chart.
"At the end of the day," Crockett said, "it's all about competing. You want to have an opportunity to compete. A lot of guys don't get a chance to show what they've got. This is the best place to give you a chance, so with the depth chart we'll see what happens.
"There's guys that are competing for the same spot I'm competing for. May the best man win. That's how it goes."
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