Barnett Progressing Well With Knee Rehab

Although inside linebacker Nick Barnett’s on-field work with the team during OTA workouts and mini-camp this month will be limited as he returns from a knee injury that cut short his ’08 season, he said Wednesday that he is on schedule with his rehabilitation and is confident he will be ready for the 2009 campaign.

Although linebacker Nick Barnett's on-field work with the team during OTA workouts and mini-camp this month will be limited as he returns from a knee injury, he said Wednesday that he is on schedule with his rehabilitation and is confident he will be ready for the 2009 campaign.

Barnett, who sustained a torn ACL in Green Bay's Week 10 contest at Minnesota last season, worked with the first defense at inside linebacker alongside A.J. Hawk during the jog-through portion of Wednesday's OTA workout on Clarke Hinkle Field.

"I think I'm right on schedule," Barnett said. "We've got this full month of June. After this month I should be feeling really good, and then we've got all of July.

"I don't know if I'll be participating in training camp at the beginning of it. I wouldn't say for sure, but at some point I am going to be in there in training camp."

Barnett said he began running a few weeks ago, and has added some cutting, planting and jumping to his rehabilitation routine. Although he said the knee feels good, the biggest obstacle for him will likely be the mental aspect of his recovery, something Barnett has discussed with fellow linebacker Brady Poppinga, who tore his ACL late in the '05 season before returning to the practice field just eight months later.

"I think it's more mental than it is physical at this point," Barnett said. "It's being confident in planting on the knee and doing those things. I think that will come in time of just repetition of putting it through those activities.

"I've never been in this situation to go through it, to know how long it takes for you to gain confidence in a knee that has been reconstructed. I talk to Brady all of the time and he says the same thing. You just have to not think about it and just run the drills. Over time you'll just forget about it and you'll start getting more confidence."

Barnett, who led the team in tackles four of his first five seasons, underwent season-ending surgery Nov. 20 and missed the final seven games in '08. For someone who had played in 78 games during his first five seasons in the NFL, missing just two contests due to injury, and never missed a game in college at Oregon State, not being on the field as the team lost several close games down the stretch proved to be difficult.

"When you first get hurt, you are wondering, 'Am I going to be able to come back from something like this?'" Barnett said. "Then you find out, OK, there have been a lot of guys that have come back. Then you've got to be mentally prepared to watch the other guys play football.

"It just eats you up inside because you can't be out there, especially when we are losing. You're like, man, I could be out there helping. I just know that if I was out there we would be able to win some of these games or something."

As if Barnett's rehabilitation wasn't enough of a challenge, he has the added responsibility of learning Green Bay's new 3-4 base scheme under defensive coordinator Dom Capers. In the 3-4 defense, Barnett will be called upon even more to help stop the run as well as drop into coverage.

"I'm excited about the new defense," Barnett said. "The most exciting thing about the new defense to me is the change of the coverages. We are able to do different things.

"We're not just running man coverage and calling it something else to sugarcoat that it is still man coverage. We're actually doing some zones. We're doing some different traps and doubles. It's a complicated defense. You just have to get in your book though."

{sportsad300}Since he won't be getting reps during the team portions of practice, Barnett's presence during the jog-through segments of OTA workouts takes on added importance.

"It's very valuable to be doing the (jog-throughs), especially with learning a new defense and terminology and the different checks and stuff," Barnett said. "I'm not able to do it at game speed, but just to be able to be out there and working checks and communication with all of the other guys on the field is huge. I'm glad that I get the opportunity to do that at least."

Outside of his on-field time, Barnett said he has increased his film work and spent plenty of time studying his playbook so that when he is 100 percent and back on the field full-time, the transition will be as seamless as possible.

"I have to do the extra things so that when I come back I am not behind," Barnett said. "I'm doing everything I can so that I don't slow us down when it is time for me to come back."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content