Jury still out on Wynn

Running back DeShawn Wynn has given the Green Bay Packers a taste of his ability, but injuries have derailed the rookie to the season-ending injured reserve list. PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh explains why that move may be the best thing to have happened to Wynn this season.

The biggest break of running back DeShawn Wynn's career might be that he was placed on injured reserve this week meaning he will miss the remainder of the year.

Though Wynn has been one of the best rookies on the Packers this year, he has also been one of the most difficult to figure out. His team-leading 203 rushing yards and four touchdowns gave hope to a non-existent running game, yet he has sustained a number of strange injuries and ailments that have frustrated coaches and fans.

Just exactly what is up with this guy?

Few doubt Wynn's talent, but a lack of intangibles make him an enigma. His coach, Mike McCarthy, wants to give him every opportunity to succeed despite his inability to stay on the field this year.

"I think you look at DeShawn Wynn, and I'm very pleased for what he's accomplished in the short time he's been here," said McCarthy. "He's a seventh-round pick. He had to fight like hell at the end of training camp the last week. He missed training camp with a significant injury, and heck, he was our starting running back at one point. I think he has a very bright future. It's unfortunate that he has to go down on IR, but we're excited about DeShawn's future here - because he has all the ability. He can be as good as he wants to be."

McCarthy's last comment speaks volumes of Wynn's character. "He can be as good as he wants to be." That has been a refrain for the highly-touted running back since he came to the University of Florida. He was one of the most highly-recruited backs, but his talent has never quite matched the expectations.

By all accounts, the Packers do not appear to be giving up on Wynn, which is a good thing. He was a steal as a seventh-round pick. He just needs time to think about his dedication to the game and whether or not he wants to be a No. 1 back. He at least has a decent shot to be the full-time ball carrier considering the problems the Packers have had with their running game.

Wynn's latest injury, a shoulder problem, came at a time when he might have been turning a corner mentally. He had been saying all the right things in recent weeks and was getting the majority of the carries. With another injury, his on-the-field progress hits a road block.

His time off the field, however, should bring him greater gains. Not only will he have time to think about his preparation, but he will also be able to get himself into top shape and learn the nuances of the Packers' offense that can make him a great back. It is all up to him. That is why this "off" time will be the most critical of his young career.

McCarthy said on Tuesday that Wynn suffered a nerve injury to his shoulder against the Broncos, similar to, but much worse than what guard Tony Moll endured earlier in the year. Moll missed over a month.

During the practice week leading up to the Broncos game, Wynn also injured his neck, and before that there were other health issues. Early in training camp, he did not appear to handle the heat too well (which may have been due in part to a stomach virus) and a quadriceps injury kept him out of three preseason games and valuable practice time. Cramps have been an issue during the regular season.

Wynn probably would have been cut at the end of the preseason had it not been for other players at his position who were injured as well. He played only the last preseason contest – and was unimpressive – but when he got a chance during the regular season, he played much better. He had a nifty 18-yard catch-and-run against the Eagles (Sept. 9), a 36-yard touchdown run against the Giants (Sept. 15), and a 44-yard burst to begin the game against the Bears (Oct. 7). In four of the first five games he averaged 4.5 yards per carry or more.

The Packers under McCarthy have shown a quick ax with players who appear less than fully committed. Two recent players who fall under that category include Donnell Washington and Ahmad Carroll.

Wynn could be the next to go if he remains a mystery. He will get every chance to succeed, but unless he takes advantage of it, his stay in Green Bay could be short.

Matt Tevsh is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.

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