PUP Players Waiting to be Unleashed

Just when, or if, Jerel Worthy, Derek Sherrod, J.C. Tretter and Sean Richardson will be cleared to practice hasn't been determined. All four players discuss their progress as they are eligible to start practicing next week.

After this week, the sixth of the season, the four players on the Green Bay Packers' physically unable to perform list will be eligible to start practicing.

Jerel Worthy, for one, sounds ready to go.

"Man, the clock's been ticking for a minute," Worthy said on Wednesday. "I've been doing great. Spirits are doing good, body's doing even better. Just counting down these days, man. Just counting down these days. Just getting ready to get back out there and whenever my number's called, I'll be ready to play."

Under PUP rules that were revised for this season, players are eligible to begin practicing any time from after Week 6 to the first day after the conclusion of the Week 11 games, which is Nov. 19 this season. In past seasons, it was the day after the Week 9 games, so players have an additional two weeks to get ready. Once a player begins practice, that opens a three-week window in which he can practice without counting against the roster limit. After those three weeks, the player must be activated to the 53-man roster, put on season-ending injured reserve or released.

Along with Worthy, the Packers' other PUP players are offensive linemen Derek Sherrod and J.C. Tretter and safety Sean Richardson. Worthy tore his ACL in last year's Week 17 game at Minnesota.

"I would like to be (cleared to practice next week)," Worthy said. "Regardless, I just have to roll with what the guys upstairs want to do. Just going to leave it up to them. Regardless, I'm going to make sure I do my job and get myself in the best shape to be ready to play. Just going to take my time with it. Regardless, when I'm ready to play, I'll be ready. I'm excited. When they throw me out there, I'm going to go do my thing."

Sherrod broke his leg in December 2011 at Kansas City and hasn't played since, a consequence of the emergency surgery following that game not healing properly and requiring a second surgery.

On his weekly TV show that aired on Wednesday, coach Mike McCarthy said Sherrod would play this season.

"I really felt at the end of training camp his workouts went to a different level," McCarthy said on Thursday. "He's in excellent shape. He's obviously a lot stronger than he was this time last year. As I've stated and it's obvious, that was a very, very serious injury. He needed the extra time. He looks good, he's champing at the bit. But let's be honest, the biggest hurdle he'll have to get over next is pads, he needs to get in pads and he needs to get in there. Once he gets over that hurdle I think he'll be ready to go." For Sherrod, the team's first-round pick in 2011, it's been a long, grueling road back.

"I'm definitely looking forward to when I'm back out on the field," Sherrod said. "It's been a long time. I'm definitely happy about when that time is coming up. … Once Doc clears me, that's when I'll be back out there. I'll definitely go out there and go hard at it."

Tretter broke his ankle during a fumble-recovery drill on the first day of organized team activities. He shed no light on his timetable, though he said he's "moving around better" and has made "great strides the last couple of weeks."

Tretter, a fourth-round pick who was expected to challenge to be the Packers' top backup at the interior positions and perhaps at right tackle, said he hadn't missed a game in his life, making the past few months particularly frustrating.

"You just have to go into it with the right mind-set," he said. "You have to understand that in this business, this is one of the things that are going to happen to you. You're going to get hurt. No one goes through this business without getting injured or dinged up. You have to do what you can, which is study my playbook and get healthy. Those are the two things I've been focused on this whole time."

Richardson injured his neck in December at the Giants and needed surgery. His career is up in the air, depending on the risk of re-injury.

"No clue. I have no clue," he said about his future. "Neck injuries are very serious. Everybody's being very cautious. It's up in the air but I'm hoping that I'll be back out there soon."

As for Worthy, if he could return at some point that season, it would be a remarkable comeback given his size and that the injury was sustained at the end of the season. Worthy, a second-round pick last year, and the training staff had targeted Week 1.

"Our training staff, we did everything in our power to get me out there as fast and as early as possible but they felt that it was best for me and best for my career to take a step back and make sure everything is working the right way," he said.

At the time, Worthy wasn't thrilled with that decision. In retrospect, he understands, saying the team only was looking out for his long-term best interests.

If nothing else, by delaying his return for a couple months, it's only added fuel to the energetic Worthy.

"I never missed a college game, probably maybe missed only one or two high school games, so I'm not used to sitting on the sideline," he said. "It's been a big challenge for me mentally as far as being able to take a step back from the game, knowing you can't participate, but that's going to make it that much more enjoyable when I come back, to be able to understand that this can be taken away from you at any given moment so you've got to take advantage of it."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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