GREEN BAY – John Kuhn had never had a hamstring injury before. And like many, the Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl fullback didn’t appreciate just how debilitating one can be.
“I think hamstrings can really get underestimated because you can walk around, you can feel fine,” Kuhn said Thursday after practicing on a limited basis for the third straight practice in advance of Sunday’s game at Detroit. “I’ve never done a hamstring (injury) until this one, so it was definitely a learning experience.”
Kuhn suffered the injury Oct. 21 at St. Louis and has not played since. While fullback is a thankless job and the Packers have been able to replace his blocking with their tight ends, Kuhn’s role in the offense is vital as the third-down back because he’s so good on blitz pickups and protection. Having him back for the Lions would give the offense a subtle but valuable lift.
“I thought John looked really good. I watched him throughout the blitz pickup, third down and in the red zone. We’ll see how the full week of work goes, but I thought he looked like his old self today,” coach Mike McCarthy said after Thursday’s practice.
“John’s very good at a lot of things. He’s very bright, if you want to talk about pure protection, whether it’s blitz pickup or whether it’s punt protection versus eight-man pressures and things like that. He has a knack and a very good understanding of gap integrity and where the fit of the protection is going, where the help is and the adjustments all the way through. … John’s just a very good, instinctive, experienced football player.”
Kuhn said he’s felt a bit more appreciated by the tight ends during his time on the sideline, as they’ve now felt the toll that blocking takes on the body.
“They told me, ‘Man, we feel for you. We know what you go through week-in and week-out now.’ But they’ve done a great job, too. They’ve really done a good job filling in,” Kuhn said. “I came from college where I touched the ball 30 times a game. So to play in the NFL and do the job that I’ve done, I’ve really learned to appreciate the job of a fullback and tried to be a swing man, make it even more versatile and do a lot of other things with it. It’s something I take a lot of pride in and I do enjoy it.”
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