GREEN BAY – When Sederrick Cunningham walked into the auxiliary locker room Saturday afternoon, his arm in a sling and his wrist in a cast, his fellow roster hopefuls were concerned. They’d seen the Green Bay Packers rookie wide receiver get hurt during the first practice of training camp on Friday, and they were wondering when he was going to have surgery on his dislocated left wrist.
“I was like, ‘I already had it,’” Cunningham said after Saturday’s practice, in which two more rookie wide receivers – seventh-round picks Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey – also left with injuries.
“They check me in (to the hospital) immediately, had my surgery at like 4 or 5 o’clock. I’m sitting in a room looking outside a window. Then, 5:30, 6 o’clock I’m sitting back in my dorm room (at St. Norbert College). People were telling me, ‘You should be asleep’ and everything. I took some of the medicine, but I wanted to show the guys I’m not soft. I’m not soft at all. That’s my biggest thing. I want to have the respect of the people in this locker room and the people upstairs. Letting them know that, hey, it’s just a bump in the road.”
For a player like Cunningham, who spent last season out of football after going undrafted out of Furman, the injury would seem to be more than just a bump in the road. He caught just 17 passes for 340 yards his senior year at Furman in 2011 – although he did have four touchdowns – and also returned 32 kickoffs for 853 yards and a touchdown that season
But no NFL team signed him last year, and he was working at a General Nutrition Center store and trying out for CFL and Arena League teams when the Packers called him for a workout and signed him in mid-April.
“It was funny because the first time I got here, the first thing I asked one of the scouts was, ‘How did I get here? How did you find me?’ Because I was out of football for a whole year,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham suffered the injury while running a deep go route Friday. He went up for the ball along with rookie cornerback Micah Hyde, and when the two fell to the ground, Cunningham went to brace himself with his left arm. Unfortunately for him, he came down on the arm with all his weight, and dislocated his wrist, requiring pins to be inserted in Friday afternoon’s surgery.
“When I got up, I was thinking I probably hit it really quick. There was some movement, so I thought it would be fine the next play,” Cunningham said. “When I couldn’t really do the movements and it started going numb, a little dead, I was like, ‘I probably need to go get this looked at.’
“I’m just a little upset about it because I take pride in my teammates knowing I’m a tough person, I’m dependable. When you have a freak accident, it’s upsetting because you kind of wonder what your teammates think of you.”
Cunningham said doctors didn’t give him a timetable for return, but to his credit, he was remarkably upbeat for someone whose odds of making the team had taken a major blow.
Johnson, meanwhile, appeared to escape a major injury to his left knee during Saturday’s practice. Running a route across the middle, his cleat stuck in the ground as he reached back for a pass Graham Harrell had thrown behind him, and he awkwardly bent backward. After staying on the ground for several minutes, though, he was able to walk off under his own power and was back on the field later in the practice as a spectator.
“As I was falling backwards I could feel my foot was caught. I’m falling back and I’m trying to get my leg out but it wasn’t happening and it fell really awkwardly,” Johnson said. “It was just one of those little freak things of I scared myself more than anything. I was pretty upset that once again I was injured and couldn’t be out there with my team.”
Johnson had an MRI scheduled for later Saturday, and after missing virtually all of OTAs and the minicamp with a hamstring injury, he can ill-afford to be sidelined for too long.
“That’s the one thing – I missed a lot of on-field time. That’s why I was really upset about what happened today,” Johnson said. “I stay on top of my play book because that’s the only thing I can do. I can’t physically run routes or anything. When I do get the opportunity when I get back, I have to make sure I’m A-plus – no missed assignments, none of that. I’m pretty good with that right now. I want to be even better when I come back.”
Dorsey left practice with an apparent hamstring injury.
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