Time is now for Humphrey

The oft-injured tight end hopes to practice this week for first time since breaking his leg on the first day of training camp last year.

Tory Humphrey has spent more time rehabbing injuries and collecting money without doing a thing in a regular-season football game than perhaps any player in Packers history.

What does that tell you about the tight end? For one, he's either injury prone or just prone to bad luck. And second, the Packers must think an awful lot of a player they signed after he went undrafted in 2005 out of Central Michigan.

Humphrey spent 2005 on the Packers' practice squad, half of 2006 on injured reserve with a hamstring injury and all of 2007 on injured reserve after breaking his lower leg on the first day of training camp.

Interviewed after Thursday's practice, Humphrey was hopeful he'd be back on the field this week for the first time since that injury. Wednesday's organized team activities practice will be open to the public inside the Don Hutson Center.

"I wanted to go the first week (of OTAs), but they had to hold me back just a bit longer. I've been ready to go. I'm itching (to practice)," Humphrey said.

The Packers' patience with injured players has been rewarded in the past. In 1996, third-round pick Mike Flanagan broke his leg in the preseason opener. He spent all of 1996 and 1997 on injured reserve, then was traded to Carolina in 1998 but failed his physical because of the leg. Finally, in 2001, he became the Packers' starting center, and he earned a Pro Bowl spot in 2003.

Humphrey, who at 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds has the size to be a decent blocker and the speed to be a downfield threat in the passing game, allowed an acknowledging laugh when asked if he's been the victim of bad luck.

"In this business, everyone gets hurt at some point in time," he said. "It's just that I've had more serious injuries than most."

He wouldn't say it, but Humphrey must know this is a critical time in his career. The Packers aren't going to wait forever for a player who caught 68 passes as a four-year college starter but has no receptions in three years in the NFL. They signed starter Donald Lee to a lucrative four-year contract extension in November, and spent a valuable third-round draft pick on talented Jermichael Finley in April.

"There's always competition, no matter what year it is," Humphrey said. "If they draft someone or they're going to bring somebody in, no matter what, there's always going to be competition, so you just have to be ready."

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com

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