Jerel Worthy

Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Jerel Worthy says he’ll play in the 2013 season. We’d call that overly-optimistic.

Worthy tore his ACL in the final game of the 2012 season. It typically takes guys eight to 12 months to return from that injury. Worthy is currently four months into his rehab, but sounds dead set on returning this year.

“That’s the goal — to play this year,” Worthy said. “I’m going to play this year. Regardless of what time I do come back, whatever time it is, it’s going to be perfect for the team. I’m trying to do my best to be back. We don’t have a scheduled date as far as when I’ll return. But this season, definitely.”

Worthy could be in such a hurry to get back because he’s worried about playing time. The Packers went out and drafted a defensive end in the first round to fill the role Worthy was supposed to fill as a second-round pick last season. Worthy never really came on during his rookie year and C.J. Wilson started the majority of the time at the defensive end slot opposite Ryan Pickett. Worthy finished the season with 23 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

People will point to Adrian Peterson as a guy who suffered a late-season ACL injury and returned early the next season (Peterson started week one). He’s clearly the exception to the rule. The norm is someone like Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who got injured in last season’s playoffs and didn’t play at all this season.

There are even guys on the Packers roster who suffered severe late-season injuries and sat out the entire year. Andrew Quarless (knee) and Derek Sherrod (broken leg) both missed all of 2012 because of injuries they suffered toward the end of the 2011 season. Worthy says he won’t be that guy, though.

“No, no, no,” Worthy said. “That doesn’t cross my mind at all. I’m just going to continue to take it day by day. I’ve been blessed to not have any setbacks to this point. We’ve been at this for 4-5 months now, so as long as I continue to stick to the plan and I continue to stay positive, I’ll be good.

“Just stick to the plan. Stay on task. Treatment is a must day-in and day-out, trying to prevent things. The focus is on your job and craft, so my No. 1 priority is to make it back. We have a lot of new talent in. There are a lot of guys competing.”

Something tells me Worthy won’t be one of them. At least this season. At the very least, he’ll start the year on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he’ll be out the first six games. If he’s not ready by midseason, the Packers will likely put him on injured reserve much like they did with Sherrod and Quarless last year.

Then again, they could just save themselves the trouble, tell Worthy he’s going to take a full year to recover and put him on injured reserve to start the season.

Jerel Worthy
Green Bay Packers