GREEN BAY, Wis. – Rest and rehab weren't enough to get Greg Jennings back on the field.
The Green Bay Packers' No. 1 receiver will have surgery next Tuesday to repair a torn abdominal muscle that has kept him out for most of the season. He would not put a timetable on his return, but said recovery from the 20- to 25-minute outpatient procedure is not season-ending.
"Honestly, I'm over being bummed about it. That took place three, four weeks ago," Jennings said Thursday. "It is what it is. I need to take care of it to 100 percent, and that's the process I'm taking."
The two-time Pro Bowler was initially hurt in the closing minutes of the Sept. 9 opener against San Francisco. He sat out the next week's game against Chicago, and returned to play at Seattle on Sept. 24. But he aggravated the injury against New Orleans, and came out of the Sept. 30 game in the second quarter after a 9-yard touchdown catch, his first of the season.
Jennings had hoped the injury would heal with treatment and strength work. But he continued to feel pain when he was in the weight room or tried to run, and feared the injury wasn't improving as he'd hoped. When he felt his groin tighten up as he ran off the field after last weekend's game in St. Louis, Jennings knew more aggressive treatment was needed.
"The trainers have done a great job in the rehabilitation stages to get me to where I am right now," he said. "But now we have to take it a step further."
He traveled Wednesday to Philadelphia to see Dr. William Meyers, who specializes in abdominal and groin injuries.
"The way he described it to me was simply two people pulling on the end of a rope and it starts to fray. The more tugging, the more fraying, which means the more tearing occurs," Jennings said. "That's what I have going on."
Meyers told Jennings he could have either an injection or surgery. But it would take a few days to see if the injection worked.
If it didn't, Jennings would need surgery anyway.
"The injection would've masked most of the pain, but there was still no guarantee I could go out there and hit that last gear," Jennings said. "That's the one thing I have to have ... to create more separation. 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. I could have spent the week rehabbing on a surgery that's going to get me back perfect."
Jennings said he'll be able to walk out of the procedure, which will be done in Philadelphia. He joked that he'll be back in the locker room Wednesday and "you guys will never know."
The injury has come at the most inopportune time for Jennings, who is in the last year of his contract.
Though he's had 1,000-yard seasons in three of the last four years and is seventh on Green Bay's career list with 401 receptions, some believe the Packers will let Jennings go as an unrestricted free. The 29-year-old figures to command a contract averaging more than $10 million per season and, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, outside linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive tackle B.J. Raji needing extensions, there might not be enough money to go around.
The Packers are probably deeper at receiver than any other position, too, and Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb have all had big performances in Jennings' absence. Nelson had three touchdown catches against Houston, and has had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. Jones caught two TD passes in three straight games, tying a franchise record. Cobb followed his first 100-yard receiving game, against Houston, with a pair of touchdown receptions against St. Louis.
"Free agency will take care of itself," Jennings said. "Hopefully, I've put on film certain plays that I'm able to make and showcase my talents. ... Right now, I have to take care of myself and do what's best for me."
And that is to have surgery.
Asked if he wishes he'd made this decision earlier, Jennings said it's pointless to think about.
"You always wish you'd done things differently once it didn't work," he said. "But the past is the past. You can't live in the past, you can't change the past. Time keeps on ticking. So right now, the decision and the choice that we're going with is going to get me back to 100 percent."
Notes: DT B.J. Raji, who has missed the last two games with a bad ankle, was able to practice on a limited basis Thursday. "I thought he looked good," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He was jumping around there, looked like old self." ... McCarthy said he thinks backup DE Mike Neal, who injured his knee against the Rams, will be able to play in Sunday's game against Jacksonville. ... With so many players banged up — the Packers had 13 players on Thursday's injury report — McCarthy is cutting practices short this week. "You don't want to stress your team while getting ready for a game," he said.
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