|Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings will have surgery next week to repair an abdominal tear. (US Presswire)|
Packers WR Greg Jennings will have surgery next week to repair an abdominal tear, he announced Thursday at his locker. The operation is not season-ending, but he wouldn't give a timetable for his return.
Jennings, who was hurt in the season-opener and has missed four games, including the last three, will have the outpatient procedure performed next Tuesday by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia. He said it's a “minor surgery” that should only take about 25 minutes and he plans on coming back this season.
“I'll be able to get up and leave on my own,” he said. “And I'll be back, walk in the locker room, and you guys will never know on Wednesday.”
Jennings said there was “no sense in waiting any longer” to have the operation. In six weeks, the injury hasn't healed. He came back in Week 3 and caught a touchdown in Week 4 against the Saints, but he re-aggravated the injury and hasn't played since.
Until Thursday, Jennings' rectus abdominis muscle tear was being called a groin injury.
“The way (Dr. Meyers) described it to me was simply two people pulling on the end of a rope and it starts to fray," he said. "And the more tugging, the more fraying, which means the more tearing occurs. That's what I have going on.”
Jennings said he didn't want to give a timetable for his return because he didn't want to create expectations, but he reiterated that he expects to see the field again for the Packers (4-3) in 2012.
"As far as the timeframe of how long the rehab and recovery will be, my body will tell me that," he said. "At the end of the day, whether I feel good or not is going to determine when I'm going to return. But (it's) not season-ending. Hopefully, I can return before the season ends. We'll see."
Jennings said he's been doing pool work to help improve his stamina, which has been the biggest concern since he got hurt. He said he can do various activities that work the muscles without “over-exhausting” the tear.
“I can make it worse, but if it gets worse, the surgery will fix it no matter how bad it gets,” he said.
Jennings said he had a couple of options for fixing the problem. He could have gotten an injection that would have alleviated the pain, or he could have surgery. He said choosing the operation was “absolutely” an easy decision.
“Injection would've masked most of the pain, but there was still no guarantee that I'd be able to go out there and hit that last gear,” he said, adding that when he tried to run full speed he felt it hurt immediately. “And that's the one thing that I have to have. So there's no sense to me in taking a shot that may or may not work, may take three days to a week to actually start to work, when I could've spent a week rehabbing on a surgery that's going to get me back.”
Feeling it flare up in workouts, frustrated with the lack of progress in his recovery and uncertain exactly what the injury was, Jennings sought a second opinion and visited a specialist on Tuesday. He said he was prepared for the possibility that a surgical operation was needed, and when he was told it would be a relatively small one he elected to have the procedure.
“I kind of went there with the mindset that I was going to probably hear the word surgery,” he said. “Pending how long the recovery time was, that was going to weigh a little on (the decision). It's not as extensive … I know it's surgery, so it's major, but it's a minor surgery.”
Jennings said the best-case scenario was that he'd have the surgery and be able to play right away. “But I doubt if that'll happen,” he said. “The trainers have done a great job in the rehabilitation stages to get me to where I am right now, but now we have to take it a step further.”
In the absence of the two-time Pro Bowler, the Packers other receivers have stepped up. Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb have combined to catch 41 passes for 420 yards and eight touchdowns in the past two games, both road wins. Jennings said he wasn't surprised that they rose to the occasion.
“They've done an outstanding job,” he said. “There was no doubt in my mind -- I don't think there was doubt in anyone in this locker room's mind -- that the team would thrive and continue to have success. There's a lot of guys in here who make a lot of plays, a lot of impact players. When your number's called, you have to be ready and make the plays.”
In hindsight, Jennings said he wished he had done things differently and not rushed back in Week 3.
“Since I wasn't able to come back with a full recovery, obviously I wish I would've sat out and not came back in the Seattle game and taken more time and see where I would've been,” he said. “But the past's the past. Can't live in the past, can't change the past, time keeps on ticking."
Jennings, who's a free agent after this season, said, “Honestly, I'm over being bummed about (the injury). That took place three, four weeks ago. The reality is, it is what it is, I need to take care of it, to get back to 100 percent and that's the process.”
There has been no public progress made on a contract extension for Jennings, who has spent all seven of his pro seasons in Green Bay since being a second-round draft pick in 2006 out of Western Michigan. In three hobbled games this year, he's caught 12 passes for 78 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers project far below his career averages, but Jennings said he's not worrying about what will happen in the offseason.
“(Free agency) is a little far down the road,” he said. “It's kind of like a game of chess; you have to strategically set your next move up. But obviously I've thought about it. (Surgery) is the best (option), knowing I'm not putting myself in harm's way, make it worse, or just play and know that I'm not 100 percent.
“Free agency will take care of itself. Hopefully, I've put on film some plays that I'm able to make, showcase my talents. Right now I have to take care of myself, and do what's best for me.”