GREEN BAY Wis. – Green Bay Packers tight end Luke Musgrave has practiced the last two days, his first days of football activity since suffering a lacerated kidney against the Chargers on Nov. 19.
How has it gone?
“I think probably as you would expect,” Musgrave said. “I think it’s good that we’re practicing. I’m doing what I can. It’s been good.”
Having missed the last five games and with only a couple limited-participation practices under his belt, it’s almost impossible to believe that Musgrave will be activated from injured reserve for Sunday night’s game at the Minnesota Vikings. That potentially could leave only one more opportunity this season for Musgrave, the Week 18 finale at home against the Chicago Bears.
“He’s doing an outstanding job, and he’s going to be day to day,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “I think the progress he’s shown just in his ability to run and getting his legs back underneath him, his wind back – it’s football shape when you haven’t done it for a long time. It’s a big deal.
“It’s just nice to have his presence out there I would say for everybody, for himself, for his own mental health. This game means a lot to him. He puts a lot of time and dedication into it and it’s definitely important to him.”
At the time of the injury, Musgrave was on the threshold of becoming the most productive rookie tight end in Packers history. In 2000, first-round pick Bubba Franks caught 34 passes for 363 yards. In 10 games in 2023, Musgrave caught 33 passes for 341 yards.
In fact, he might have challenged the record for most receptions by a tight end in Packers history; Jermichael Finley caught 61 passes in 2012 and Musgrave was on pace for 56.
“You definitely see the flashes,” offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich said of Musgrave’s first practices. “He’s got his speed, catches the ball great. We haven’t had pads on, so we haven’t been able to see him run block or anything like that yet. But, yeah, he’s looked good.
“He’s got a smile on his face. I think he’s really happy to be out there running around with the guys. So, hopefully, we can get him back here pretty soon.”
Unless the Packers win their final two games and get a bit of help to get into the playoffs, “pretty soon” will turn into “2024,” well, pretty soon. Not only will Musgrave have to be cleared by the medical staff, he will have to feel confident in what he’s doing after a long layoff.
Coming back from an internal injury is a lot more challenging than rehabbing an injured hamstring or playing through a sprained ankle, like he did earlier in the season.
Musgrave will be ready when he’s ready following an injury in which the early stages of recovery were limited to rest.
“I think I’d be fine,” he said. “I think it’s just going to be endurance. I stayed fairly active, so I don’t think it’d be a huge challenge.”