Defensive lineman Kenny Peterson had no idea when he tweaked his ankle and limped off the practice field on Aug. 10 that it would be three weeks before he'd play in a game.
"Definitely not. It caught me by surprise the length of time it's taken to get back," Peterson said. "But it's one of those injuries where time heals all wounds. I'm going to go out here and see what I can do."
What Peterson has is essentially one game to show he deserves a roster spot. Having missed the first three preseason games, the fourth-year veteran knows he's one of many players on the roster bubble when Tennessee visits Lambeau Field on Friday.
Peterson returned to practice late last week, but the ankle was nowhere near strong enough for him to make the trip to Cincinnati.
On Wednesday, after the only practice this week, Peterson stayed late to work on some fundamentals and test the ankle further. He gave a thumbs-up to defensive coordinator Bob Sanders as he left the field.
Now he's hoping to get the thumbs-up from the entire coaching staff when final roster decisions are made on Saturday.
"He's voiced his eagerness to get out there, and I'm excited he has the opportunity to play because I know it's been a long rehab for him with his ankle," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said.
"I want to see him play. I know Kenny was a contributor last year and I want to see where he is."
Last year was the most productive of Peterson's first three with the Packers. Playing both defensive end and defensive tackle, he posted career-highs in tackles (30, including 27 solo), sacks (three), passes defensed (four), forced fumbles (two) and fumble recoveries (one).
Most of Peterson's snaps in practice this year have been at end, but McCarthy said he sees him as both an end and tackle, much like Cullen Jenkins.
Jenkins, who's 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, has played mostly tackle and shown he can use his mobility to generate some pass rush from the interior of the defensive line. Perhaps that means Peterson's best chance to make an impression is to prove as an end that his 6-3, 285-pound frame can stop the run from the outside position.
"Flexibility is very important, because the more you can do the more valuable you are," McCarthy said.
The position assignment makes no difference to Peterson.
"Wherever they put me I'll play, no matter," he said. "I'll scratch wherever it itches."
At least Friday he'll get to scratch his itch to play. The alternative has been more painful than the ankle injury ever was.
"I've been ready," he said. "It's hard to sit there and watch my boys have fun playing and out there competing. That's not me to sit back and not compete. That's what I love doing, that's why I play this game.
"Not going out and competing with everybody is going to set you back, but that's not my focus. I can't control that, I can't control that I got hurt. The only thing I can control is what I do on Friday."