Tight end back in business

Injury-riddled Tory Humphrey getting back up to speed with Packers

Tory Humphrey has been with the Green Bay Packers since training camp in 2005, but he has yet to catch a pass in a regular season game and he didn't play at all last year due to an injury. Yet, Humphrey has a pretty good chance of making the 53-man roster this season.

Perhaps no one on the team is happier to be on the practice field each day and participating in preseason games than Humphrey. The reserve tight end suffered a broken lower left leg on the first day of training camp and missed the entire 2007 season. The injury left him on crutches for more than a month and he was not able to run until last December. It wasn't until the team's Organized Team Activities practices in late May and June that Humphrey said he was "completely back" and able to run pass routes and block like he did prior to the injury.

Now he's battling rookie free agents Evan Moore and Joey Haynos for a roster spot behind Donald Lee and third-round draft pick Jermichael Finley in the Packers' roster. Thus far in training camp, it appears that Humphrey is picking up where he left off prior to his disappointing injury.

"I think Tory Humphrey has done very well," said Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. "He just needs to stay healthy. That's really the issue with Tory. He is also someone that is a factor on special teams. I would classify him as a core player on special teams. That's where we had him ranked last year prior to his injury, and he'll be right in the middle of it again this year.

"Jermichael Finley I think has a huge upside in front of him. He's very young, very raw, but he has picked things up. He is probably the most athletic of a very athletic group of tight ends, particularly in the receiving part of it. I like what Joe (Haynos) has done. It's the most athletic group that I have ever had."

Some observers feel that Moore, a former wide receiver with Stanford, may sneak onto the roster. He has made some impressive catches in training camp practices. And Haynos, at 6-foot-8, 268 pounds, is a big and fairly mobile target.

However, Humphrey, who put on five pounds of muscle over the offseason to increase his weight to 255 pounds, has the ability to catch the ball and block. And, like McCarthy said, Humphrey's biggest asset is his experience on special teams. Yet, he knows that nothing is guaranteed. He was in Green Bay's training camp in 2005 as a rookie and was released in the final cutdown. He was re-signed to the practice squad in November of that season and promoted to the 53-man roster on Dec. 30. He made the team the following season, but was placed on injured reserve in mid-November with a hamstring injury.

"Everybody has to work. Everybody has to make plays," Humphrey said. "If I go out there and am completely out of it, dropping balls and missing blocks, then I have no chance. If I go out and play my game, make plays and work on my assignments and the right techniques, I'll be good."

Humphrey caught two passes for six yards in Green Bay's preseason opener against Cincinnati on Monday night. It appeared that he neglected to run his route when a pass by quarterback Brian Brohm was intercepted and promptly got chewed out on the sideline by McCarthy. Other than that, Humphrey is thrilled to be back playing football after a long, frustrating rehab.

"I was excited for Family Night (chuckles)," he said. "Anytime it's live contact … I haven't been in live contact for two years, so it's good to get that out of the way before the season comes."

Humphrey's first pass reception when the games count may not be far away.

Tory Humphrey (84) looks back to quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during Green Bay's preseason game on Monday night. (AP photo)

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