GREEN BAY – Raven Greene didn't know whether he'd get a chance to put his No. 24 jersey on again this season after an ankle injury landed the Packers' second-year safety on injured reserve back in September.
However, that's now a reality for Greene thanks to Green Bay's 13-3 record earning the team a No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. On Thursday, the Packers officially used the second of their two available designations to activate Greene off IR.
The 5-foot-11, 197-pound defensive back said he started running, cutting and doing actual football movements a couple weeks ago, and is hoping participate in Green Bay's playoff run.
"It was a process, obviously," Greene said. "The training staff and everybody showed a lot of support for me, so I'm just glad to be in this position, with a chance to come back and just help contribute quite possibly."
Greene showed a lot of promise as an undrafted rookie out of James Madison last year, playing in eight games before injuring his ankle for the first time in Seattle last November. Cleared in time for the offseason program, he slid right in as the hybrid safety in the Packers' nickel sub-package, holding that job from the start of organized team activities all the way until the regular-season opener against Chicago.
Greene played well in the opener against the Bears, registering seven tackles and a pass deflection in 55 defensive snaps. However, he suffered another ankle injury the following week against Minnesota that caused him to revert back to IR.
Greene said his latest injury was "three different injuries in one," with one being similar to the deltoid tear that ended his rookie season. While it was frustrating to go through the rehab process again, Greene felt it was a bit easier the second time around.
Head Coach Matt LaFleur said Greene could "potentially" return for the Packers' divisional playoff game but that depends on how he looks in practice this next week. Green Bay has a spot open on its 53-man roster after cornerback Tony Brown was released last Saturday.
"It's still kind of an evaluation for him to see where he's at. But, (it's) definitely nice to have him back out there today," LaFleur said of Greene.
Greene's injury had a domino effort on the defense. With Ibraheim Campbell starting the year on the physically unable to perform list, the Packers had to shift veteran safety Adrian Amos into the box next to inside linebacker Blake Martinez until Campbell was activated in early November.
Greene's return would provide the Packers not only extra depth on defense, but also a valued contributor on special teams. He had five coverage tackles and a forced fumble last year, along with executing a successful 26-yard run on a fake punt against Miami.
As he works to get back into football shape, Greene has been keeping in contact with the Packers' sports psychologist to mentally prepare himself after the injuries. After not getting a chance at a comeback last year, Greene appreciates the opportunity in front of him – even if he didn't always know it would be possible.
"It was deep in the back of my mind, but it was so far out," said Greene about his desire to return this year. "Just trying to keep things low in my mind and working as hard as I could every single day, spending as much time as I could in the facility. Trying to stay in shape, keep my mind right, not just up and forgetting the playbook and things of that nature. I feel like I was pretty diligent and all of that. It helped me be where I'm at right now."
Previous players the Packers have designated to return from injured reserve:
- 2012: Cedric Benson
- 2013: Randall Cobb
- 2014: JC Tretter
- 2015: Andrew Quarless
- 2016: Makinton Dorleant
- 2017: Aaron Rodgers, Jason Spriggs
- 2018: Jake Kumerow, Trevor Davis
- 2019: Jace Sternberger, Raven Greene