Sean Richardson’s season is officially over.
The Green Bay Packers placed the fourth-year safety on injured reserve Wednesday, clearing a roster spot for tight end Justin Perillo to be activated from the practice squad.
Richardson dropped out of practice Thursday after experiencing neck pain, which turned out to be related to the herniated disc he sustained during his rookie season in 2012. Packers coach Mike McCarthy wouldn’t comment on the injury Monday when asked about Richardson.
He has a guaranteed $2.55 million salary for the 2015 season, but is scheduled to be a free agent after the season. Richardson missed a full calendar year after having his C-5 and C-6 vertebrae fused in January 2013.
Unlike Nick Collins and Jermichael Finley, Richardson was cleared to return because the fusion occurred lower on his spine. However, the re-injury likely will force him into early retirement.
“Anything with your back or spine, anything like that, it’s tough to go through," said cornerback Casey Hayward, who has played with Richardson since their freshman year at Vanderbilt. "I think he made the right decision to come in and check it out and shutting it down because football is only a small percentage of your life. He has a son, a fiancé, he has to think about. I think that’s the most important thing is it’s about family. That’s what you play this game for is your family and your legacy.
"He’s been playing for four years and he’s done a great job. Hopefully, he comes back healed up – nothing with football – just healed up in general and healthy for his family."
Perillo, 24, spent the second half of last season on the Packers’ 53-man roster and was active in two games. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound tight end was among the Packers’ final cuts when they chose to stick with sixth-round pick Kennard Backman as their No. 3 tight end.
Backman was inactive for the first three games this season before Andrew Quarless tore his MCL last month against Kansas City. He’s been active the past two games, but played only six snaps (all offense). The 6-foot-3, 245-pound tight end appears to be more of a long-term project.
Perillo doesn’t possess Backman’s athleticism, but may be better suited to play right away and could took some offensive snaps off starter Richard Rodgers. Rodgers has played 124 of 133 offensive snaps (93 percent) since Quarless was placed on temporary injured reserve two weeks ago.
Perillo got off to a good start to camp before a concussion sidelined him for two weeks and could be an asset on special teams.
Coincidentally, Perillo’s promotion comes on the same day the Denver Broncos waived former Packers tight end Mitchell Henry, an undrafted rookie out of Western Kentucky who Green Bay hoped to sign to its practice squad last month before his contract was claimed by the Broncos.
Henry was active in two games this season and remains practice-squad eligible if he clears waivers.
The Packers signed defensive back Kyle Sebetic to replace Perillo on the practice squad. The Kenosha native spent training camp with Green Bay before being among its final cuts.
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