GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Last season, Sean Richardson was a promising rookie prospect at the safety position and made the team as an undrafted free agent.
But late in the year, he sustained a neck injury that landed him on injured reserve.
It was diagnosed as a herniated disc, the same injury that ended safety Nick Collins' playing career with the Packers in 2011. The fear was that Richardson would meet the same fate.
He underwent fusion surgery performed by Dr. Robert Watkins of Los Angeles, the same spinal specialist that operated on Peyton Manning. Richardson could not participate in any offseason practices or training camp and began this season on the physically unable to perform list.
But on Thursday, Richardson said he has been cleared by five specialists plus team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie.
“All of them cleared me, said it looked great, healing solid,” Richardson said on Thursday. “That was a blessing. And that’s what I needed, and that’s what the coaches wanted before they put me back out there. Now that that’s out of the way, now I’m just ready to put that helmet and shoulder pads back on.”
Richardson said he does not have spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal column that can make spinal cord injuries more likely.
Although he remains on PUP, he is eligible to begin practicing any time before Week 11. If he does, he can practice for three weeks before the Packers have to activate him, put him on injured reserve or release him.
“We got great news on him this week,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I’m happy for Sean for what he’s been through. He looks great. We’ll see what happens.”
The Packers were a unanimous choice to beat the Vikings on Sunday, according to the ESPN panel that picks every NFL game. Look for predictions from ESPN Vikings reporter Ben Goessling and me on Friday in our “Double Coverage” feature.
In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Weston Hodkiewicz wrote that tight ends Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick will see increased playing time in Finley’s absence. Running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said he planned to use James Starks, who is expected to return this week from a knee injury, and Johnathan Franklin more in order to keep Lacy fresh, according to Pete Dougherty’s notebook. Columnist Mike Vandermause believes receiver Greg Jennings’ decision to leave the Packers for the Vikings in free agency was a bad career move.
In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tyler Dunne posed a reasonable question: Can receiver Jarrett Boykin sustain what he started last Sunday, when he caught eight passes for 103 yards in his first NFL start?