Murphy's future in limbo

Wide receiver seeing specialists to further evaluate spinal injury

Terrence Murphy is eagerly anticipating the day that he can return to play football for the Green Bay Packers. The only problem is that day may never come.

Murphy has yet to completely heal from a scary helmet-to-helmet hit as he returned a kickoff on Oct. 3 against the Carolina Panthers. The rookie second-round draft pick sustained a spinal injury as a result of the hit and is currently in the midst of seeing specialists around the country for further consulation.

Murphy said today that he will see a fifth and final specialist within the next two weeks, then sit down with the Packers' coaches, family and team doctors to determine his future in football. Murphy wants to return to the field, but there is a chance that he may be forced to retire from the game because of the nature of his injury, which leaves him with some numbness and tingling in his extremities at times.

"It was a scary hit, and that's the chance I have to take if I come back," Murphy said. "No one can guarantee that I won't get hit like that again. Right now, I'm weighing all my options."

Up until the time of his injury, Murphy began living up to the potential that he showed in the team's off-season minicamps. Despite missing most of training camp with a sprained knee, Murphy returned to play in Week 2 as the Packers' No. 3 receiver and kickoff returner.

"I was looking to help my team and do whatever I could," Murphy said. "Once I got on the field, I started to have some success with kickoff returns, then in the Monday night game, I had two big catches for first downs, but the injury … that's just how it goes."

Packers coach Mike Sherman said today that "the light went on" in practices for Murphy during the first month of the season. "I thought he was really coming on," Sherman said. "He got it. I was anxious to see him develop."

But as Murphy returned a second-quarter kickoff against the Panthers, he was hit by the Panthers' Thomas Davis, and his body corkscrewed to the ground upon impact. Murphy was taken off the field on a stretcher and taken to a Charlotte hospital, where he stayed for a couple of days, for further evaluation.

Murphy, who turned 23 on Dec. 15, finished his season with five catches for 36 yards and five kickoff returns for 91 yards. He has been lifting weights under the guidance of strength and conditioning coaches, but he has yet to begin any kind of running. Still, he is confidence that he will be able to resume his career in 2006.

"I'm going to be bigger, stronger and faster than ever," said Murphy, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 196 pounds. "I'm going to try to put on about 5 to 6 pounds. I'd like to play about 210 next year and make some plays. I just want to make plays."

Unfortunately, that may never happen.

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