GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers safety Atari Bigby will have surgery on his troublesome left ankle on Friday and hopes to heal within a month.
Bigby said Thursday that the procedure is a scope to clean up scar tissue, not a do-over of a previous surgery. He said it shouldn't keep him out of action more than four weeks.
"I'm hoping not longer than that," Bigby said. "I'm hoping I can probably come back faster because it's supposed to be just a scope. Barring that they find anything else that's more serious, then it should be pretty quick."
If Bigby is on the physically unable to perform list to start the regular season, he would miss the first six games. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he didn't have a timeline for Bigby's return.
"I have no idea," McCarthy said. "The surgery will answer those questions."
Bigby played a key role in the Packers' NFC title game run after the 2007 season. But he has been nagged by the ankle injury two straight seasons after hurting it in the 2008 preseason.
Bigby said the ankle had been OK during the offseason but aggravated it during a conditioning test last week. He was on the sidelines for the first few days of training camp and went to see a specialist this week.
And while he's sure to lose his starting spot for the moment, he remains optimistic he can win it back.
"Hopefully I can get this thing right," Bigby said. "I feel like once I'm healthy, the ball is in my court, I can control my destiny."
With Bigby out, rookie Morgan Burnett has been working with the first-team defense in practice. Burnett, a third-rounder out of Georgia Tech, said he is more concerned about earning respect than he is about where he currently sits on the depth chart.
"You probably have to go through a whole entire training camp, and right now it's still the first week so you're still trying to build your identity, find your identity," Burnett said. "So I've still got a long way to go. But that's my goal, by the end of training camp to be able to earn the trust and respect of our teammates and coaches."
Earlier this week, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said he was pleased with Burnett's play.
"I like his approach," Capers said. "He's a mature guy coming in as a rookie. And he's getting a lot of repetitions. He doesn't say anything, he just comes to work, does a good day's work and he has athletic ability. What I'm hoping is we see him (use) the opportunities he has in these preseason games to go out and assert himself."
Bigby, a restricted free agent, wasn't in Green Bay for the Packers' offseason program and didn't sign his tender offer from the team until last week.
If he had been around in the offseason, could his ankle issues have been identified and fixed earlier?
"I can't really answer those questions because we did not see Atari through his business situation throughout the spring," McCarthy said. "Atari came in here in relatively good shape from his communication with us prior to that point, and he didn't pass the physical. It's a setback for him, and we feel like we're going to address it tomorrow and get all the answers."
Bigby's injury leaves the Packers somewhat thin at safety beyond starter Nick Collins, a Pro Bowl-caliber performer.
"Those things have a way of always sorting themselves out," McCarthy said. "It's a group of depth, so it will answer itself really. This is important to go through this installation and training camp process for all of our positions, and the safety position is no different."