As if Saturday night's performance against the San Diego Chargers wasn't bad enough, the Green Bay Packers have lost promising second-year safety Marviel Underwood for the season with a knee injury.
The news is anything but a surprise. During a screen pass on the Chargers' first offensive possession, Underwood dodged the lunging block attempt by center Nick Hardwick but his right knee buckled without any contact. The worst was feared immediately.
According to reports, Underwood tore two of the three ligaments in the knee — the anterior cruciate and medial collateral. He'll need surgery, and the recovery time is usually between eight and 12 months.
Underwood has been the starting safety opposite Nick Collins throughout training camp as Manuel, one of the Packers' bigger offseason additions, recovers from a calf injury. Underwood had played well during training camp, and intercepted a pass during the Family Night scrimmage.
Manuel, meantime, still hasn't passed his physical, and can't take part in his first practice until he does so.
Underwood was a fourth-round draft pick a year ago. He was a nonfactor for much of the season, but came on strong late, especially on special teams, where he posted a team-high 23 tackles. He spent much of the offseason in Green Bay, getting a much better grasp of the scheme while adding about five pounds of muscle.
"The biggest thing for me last year was just understanding the defense," Underwood said last week. "I knew the defense, but I didn't really understand the defense."
In their place, sixth-round pick Tyrone Culver will join the starting lineup. He posted a game-high nine tackles on Saturday. Without Manuel — who started for Seattle last season and signed a five-year, $10 million contract with Green Bay during the offseason — the Packers lack depth and experience at safety.
Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.