House, who was closing in on securing the starting cornerback job opposite Tramon Williams, expects he'll play this season — potentially in Week 1 against San Francisco.
That, of course, is the good news as the Green Bay Packers' secondary remains unsettled going into Thursday's preseason finale.
The bad news is the House that made a quantum leap between Season 1 and Season 2 won't be the House that will try to battle his way through a partially dislocated shoulder.
"When I get back out there, I'm going to be a different player because I can't do the things that I want to do because of my shoulder," House said on Sunday. "I'm a bump-and-run, hands-on type of guy but I won't be able to control the receiver the way I want to. I'm going to have to be more of a quick-jam guy."
Last season, Williams hurt his shoulder in Week 1 against New Orleans. With reduced strength and range of motion in the shoulder because of weakness and a shoulder harness, Williams wasn't anywhere close to the defensive demon who made one big play after another to help the Packers win the Super Bowl in 2010.
If House returns this season, he'll be saddled with the shoulder harness and reduced strength and range of motion — just like Williams, but without the quickness that gave Williams a level of effectiveness.
"He has way better feet than me, so he can press with his feet and just run with the guy," House said. "With me, every time I'm pressing, I've got to get hands on them. It's going to be difficult."
To that end, House said he's going to watch film of Charles Woodson, another physical corner who wore a shoulder harness for much of the 2006 season yet recorded eight interceptions.
The injury was a painful setback for House, who as a fourth-round pick last season but played in just two games and didn't get a single snap on defense. House spent the entire offseason in Green Bay, and his hard work was apparent from the first day of organized team activities. Throughout the offseason workouts and into training camp, House was hailed for his improved play.
It didn't take long for House to get his first shot with the starting unit. House started the Aug. 9 preseason game at San Diego and recorded a pass defensed and tackle for loss. Then, while covering a punt in the third quarter, House sustained what he called a "freak" injury.
"I was trying to run by the guy and I had him beat but I believe my arm was trailing," he said. "I was trying to swing with my arm and he might have pulled it or hit it when I was trying to swing it and it just popped out."
House said it was the "worst" pain he had ever felt. And not just physically.
"Once I got the starting job, I told myself I'm not going to turn around," House said. "Like Joe (Whitt, the cornerbacks coach) told us, he gave us a phrase and said, ‘When you're driving, you're focused. You're driving, look straight ahead. That one time you look around, you might get in an accident or someone might pass you up.' And I don't want to be in the passenger's seat or in the backseat. I want to be driving. And I feel like I was driving. I feel like I was driving the car and had the spot. But I might have to take the backseat until I can go and get the spot back."
House has targeted being ready for the San Francisco game on Sept. 9.
"That's what my mind's saying but my shoulder? We'll see what my shoulder says."
"It's not like our backups, or us in general, are scrubs," House said.
For now, House knows he has to stay focused on his rehab instead of focusing on getting back on the field. As the training staff explained to him, there's a slightly increased probability that he'll dislocate the shoulder again. By getting it stronger and wearing the harness, he can lessen the concern.
"Yep, because I do want to be back," he said when asked if it's hard to be patient. "I do want to be back. Just got to be smart. It is my job to play football, but I don't want to go out there in Week 1 and frickin' dislocate my shoulder and then I wasted another year. Then I'd have only two years left here and I don't want that at all because I love it here and I really don't want to go nowhere else."
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.