One Year Later, Underwood Savors Return

Last year’s preseason opener in San Diego, where he blew out his knee and was lost for the season, was a game safety Marviel Underwood will never forget. But the third-year pro took another significant step toward putting the injury behind him in this year’s preseason opener in Pittsburgh. - More www.PackersTrainingCamp.com

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Last year's preseason opener in San Diego, where he blew out his knee and was lost for the season, was a game safety Marviel Underwood will never forget.

But the third-year pro took another significant step toward putting the injury behind him in this year's preseason opener in Pittsburgh, returning to competition for the first time in a year and emerging relatively healthy.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said after the victory in Pittsburgh that Underwood sustained a hamstring injury, but it isn't considered serious and Underwood was scheduled to return to practice on Monday afternoon.

Underwood didn't even mention the injury during post-game interviews and was more focused on getting back on the field, 364 days since his last game.

"I was waiting for this for a year now," Underwood said. "Just to go out there and run around and play with the guys and have fun was great."

Last year, Underwood was injured on the first defensive series in San Diego, subbing for starter Marquand Manuel. Saturday night in Pittsburgh, starting safeties Manuel and Nick Collins played just one series before Underwood and Atari Bigby took their place.

The Steelers' two biggest offensive plays - a 41-yard touchdown pass to Walter Young and a 49-yard pass to Santonio Holmes - came with Underwood and Bigby in the game, so there will be plenty of film watching amongst the secondary this week.

But in playing most of the first and second quarters, Underwood got exposure to game situations that can only help him as he tries to get back on track. Players returning from knee injuries can take anywhere from nine to 18 months to truly return to form, so Underwood is finding out just where he is right now.

"Very valuable, I've missed a whole year," Underwood said of the playing time. "I have to get back in that groove. I could have had an interception, but you could tell I was hesitant with it, and in a couple weeks I'll be able to beat that play no problem."

The play he's referring to was the big catch by Holmes. Underwood said the receiver on his side of the field "sat down," or cut off his route, so he turned to go deep with Holmes and saw the ball lofted downfield.

But Underwood slowed up for just a step or two, having misjudged the pass, and as the ball sailed over his head Holmes made a diving catch with Bigby hauling him down at the Green Bay 12-yard line.

"I thought I had an easy interception and I misjudged it," Underwood said. "That comes with me getting my reps every day and getting better.

"He just made a (heck) of a catch. Atari had good coverage on it. You can't win them all."

But, unlike last year, Underwood is certainly glad he'll have a chance to win the next one.

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