Linebacker's season nears end

Hodge should opt to repair ailing knees first, then focus on football, says PackerReport.com's Todd Korth

Abdul Hodge will be traveling to New York on Wednesday to undergo further tests on his ailing knees. The Packers' medical staff says that Hodge has patellar tendonitis in both knees, but to be sure, Hodge will seek out further advice from the New York Giants' team doctor to determine if surgery is needed in one or both knees.

Hodge's knee problems date back to last season, one that began with a lot of promise in training camp, but then fizzled as he sustained injuries to not only his knees, but shoulder later in the season as well. Hodge played 102 snaps from scrimmage in 2006 and finished with 12 tackles.

Hodge's most memorable game was in late November against Seattle when he started for an injured Nick Barnett (broken hand). Hodge recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown, but the Packers also gave up more than 200 yards rushing to the Seahawks in the Monday Night Football loss.

Hodge's sore knees prevented him from participating in practices throughout the off-season, and he has missed nearly a dozen training camp practices. In the meantime, the Packers selected University of California linebacker Desmond Bishop in the recent NFL draft, and Bishop has passed up Hodge as Barnett's top backup.

The Packers are not about to cut Bishop, who gave fans and the team a snapshot of his punch last Thursday against Jacksonville when he nearly knocked Reggie Williams' block off. Hodge? He seems to be headed either toward the season-ending injured reserve list, or released altogether.

Because the Packers used a third-round pick on Hodge in 2006 (67th overall), they probably will place him on IR and hope that his ailing knees heal in time for next season. That seems to be the best move for Hodge and the team at this time.

"I definitely want to play, but I want to play to my potential, and I don't want to play in pain," Hodge told reporters Monday after practice. "When I play in pain, I'm not able to do the things I know I do. I don't look like myself, and I don't like that."

Hodge hasn't practiced at all this week and is not expected to play in Thursday's preseason finale at Tennessee. At this point, he has little value to the Packers or anyone else in the league because of his knees, so a year of rehab after a possible surgery and conditioning will only help Hodge and the Packers.

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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