Nick Luchey's already frustrating 2003 season has taken a turn for the worse.
Thursday the fullback revealed that he might need to undergo surgery on a broken left thumb suffered Wednesday during practice.
For the moment at least, Green Bay Packers team physician Dr. Patrick McKenzie is trying to get Luchey fitted with a protective cast that would allow him to play as soon as Monday night against the Chicago Bears.
But by playing, Luchey runs the risk of worsening the injury and having to undergo surgery anyway.
"It's kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation we're in right now," Luchey said. "I want to play so bad and it's already been frustrating for me. But I'd really be pissed if I go out there and something happened to it."
Signed by the Packers in March to be the current backup and eventual replacement for ninth-year veteran William Henderson, the 6-foot-2, 270-pound Luchey impressed during the preseason not only with his skills as a lead blocker, but also with his soft hands and footwork out of the backfield.
In his four previous seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Luchey had taken reps as a fullback, halfback and tight end. The Packers were eager to tap that athleticism and versatility, but Luchey suffered a calf strain in practice prior to the Detroit game, Sept. 14, and had to be placed on the inactive list the past two weeks.
Having finally recovered from that injury, Luchey sustained the broken thumb early in practice Wednesday when a defensive player tipped a pass that deflected awkwardly into his hand.
"It's been a hell of a season so far," a dejected Luchey said. "It's just crazy because I haven't gotten hurt in a game or in major hitting (during practice) ... It's just inexplicable to me."
If he did attempt to play Monday night, Luchey said he his hand would have to be heavily wrapped in addition to the cast.
That would likely make him available only as a blocker, where he'd be valuable in short-yardage situations, and on special teams.
Luchey expects to miss just "a couple weeks" if he has surgery.
Last season, safety Antuan Edwards fractured his arm and missed four games.