Guion, a seventh-year pro who started 28 games for the Vikings the past two seasons, had missed all of camp with a hamstring injury sustained while working out in Green Bay about a week before the start of camp. His return comes just in time, with nose tackle B.J. Raji lost for the season after injuring his biceps against Oakland on Friday night.
“It’s always an urgency when a man goes down,” Guion said. “It makes me have to step up, having to be that guy. So, I’m going to take all my steps forward to do what I’ve got to do to get prepared.”
There was urgency for Guion on a personal note, as well. Had his absence continued for much longer, he might have been the odd man out – his veteran presence notwithstanding – with third-round pick Khyri Thornton assured a spot on the 53-man roster and undrafted rookie Mike Pennel having played his way into consideration, as well.
“I wasn’t really worried about that,” Guion said. “I’ve got some experience under me and I’ve played this game for a while. I know to prepare myself, and get mentally prepared to go out there and beat some offense up.”
With fresh legs and something to prove, Guion flashed immediately. During a half-line drill focused solely on the running game, Guion got into the backfield a couple of times, including a tackle for loss of running back LaDarius Perkins.
“You know I had my adrenaline flowing,” he said. “I felt very excited to be out there, to be back in the swing of things. I had a couple plays I made out there. I felt good, I felt strong. I felt great.”
Coach Mike McCarthy was impressed by Guion’s debut but wasn’t sure if he’d be allowed to play in Thursday’s preseason finale against Kansas City. How Guion feels after Monday’s practice and how he performs on Wednesday will determine what role, if any, he gets against the Chiefs.
“He looked explosive,” McCarthy said. “I really liked what I saw from Letroy. He’s coming off of the injury (and) I thought he got off to a good start. We obviously limited his reps but I thought he had quality reps today.”
Taking Raji and Guion out of the equation, the entire defensive line – Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Josh Boyd and rookies Thornton, Pennel, Carlos Gray and Luther Robinson – had a combined one NFL start. So, a veteran like Guion adds experience as well as talent.
“I remember he was talking to me about some things during practice that the rookies could improve on, and I remember saying to him, ‘Letroy, man, you’re speaking purely from experience right now. These guys, they don’t really understand that yet,’” Daniels said. “That’s good to have that veteran presence. (The) guy’s been doing this for going into his seventh year, obviously had some success. He’s played some very good, tough football. He’s a tough, strong guy. We could use that. He’s out there, he’s mean and, more importantly, he loves the game. It was hurting him not to be out there. You could see it on his face. Now that he’s back, he might chase down a few receivers the way he’s ready to play. I’m excited for him.”
New injuries: None.
Old injuries: RB Rajion Neal (knee), CB Demetri Goodson (concussion), ILB Joe Thomas (knee), ILB Brad Jones (calf), T/G Don Barclay (knee), G Andrew Tiller (calf), C J.C. Tretter (knee), WR Jared Abbrederis (knee), TE Brandon Bostick (lower leg), NT B.J. Raji (biceps).
Returned from injury: DT Letroy Guion (hamstring).
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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.