GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In 2010, the Green Bay Packers got a late-season lift when running back James Starks came off the physically unable to perform list in late November. By the time the playoffs rolled around, he was their starter.
It might be unrealistic for either safety Sean Richardson or defensive end Jerel Worthy to make that kind of impact, but the Packers may be able to find room for them on their suddenly struggling defense.
The two practiced Wednesday for the first time this season. They can remain on PUP for up to three weeks before the Packers must decide whether to activate them.
"We've just got to go through these couple of weeks and make sure they're right," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "This is clearly a medical hurdle that both these guys can get over and they were good young players the last time they were on the field for us. I'm hopeful that we can get through this process."
The Packers would have to clear spots in order to add them to the roster.
Here's a look at each player:
Sean Richardson: A promising young safety, Richardson made the team last season as an undrafted free agent. After an early season hamstring injury, he played in five games mostly on special teams.
Then, nearly a year ago against the New York Giants, Richardson sustained a neck injury that ended his season and nearly ended his career.
"When I first got the news and my mom told me the severity of it, I just broke down," Richardson said. "I stayed positive and like I said, if I have anything to do with coming back, if it's me doing exactly what the doctors tell me and rehabbing and stuff, then I was going to do it and I was going to put myself in the best position to be able to come back."
Richardson tried to let the injury heal on its own but in January underwent fusion surgery. Robert Watkins, the same surgeon who operated on Peyton Manning's neck, fused the C-5 and C-6 vertebrae in Richardson's neck.
"The doctor said there's no chance of a catastrophic injury," Richardson said. "It healed perfectly, correctly. I talked to Watkins, and he said it's stronger now than it was before. That makes me feel good, and I feel great."
The 6-foot-2, 216-pound Richardson might be able to help a struggling secondary that has slipped to 21st in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game.
Jerel Worthy: A second-round draft pick in 2012, the 6-2, 308-pound defensive end struggled to make much of an impact last season as a rookie before he blew out his knee in the regular-season finale against the Minnesota Vikings.
The pass rusher came in with a reputation for playing undisciplined at times and with a history of jumping offsides.
"Jerel Worthy had some really good pass rushes," McCarthy said of Worthy's first practice Wednesday. "He jumped offsides twice, so I knew he was back, unfortunately."
"I plan on playing," Worthy said. "And I just want to make sure I do everything possible within practice and working on scout team and a lot of those things just to get our team better and get myself better as well."