The Green Bay Packers placed rookie wide receiver Terrence Murphy on injured reserve because of neck trauma but remain optimistic he will return at 100 percent for the 2006 season.
"To get him back on the field was going to be a little bit of a rush and probably not in his best interest," said head coach Mike Sherman, who visited Murphy on Thursday morning. "As an organization we thought this was the best way to go. I know his parents were pleased with the decision."
Sherman said the minimum recovery for such an injury is eight to 10 weeks. Murphy has regained feeling in his extemities but suffers a slight tingling in one of his shoulders. He can walk around but experiences stiffness while doing so.
Murphy suffered the injury on a punt return during the second quarter of Monday night's game. He recovered a fumble, and Carolina Panthers safety Thomas Davis drilled him as he advanced the ball. Murphy lay on the turf for several minutes before officials carted him off.
Sherman first realized the seriousness of the injury when they removed his facemask.
"I could see a lot of things were going through his head," he said "I recognized the severity of it."
Wide receiver Robert Ferguson could identify with that situation.
On Dec. 19, 2004, Ferguson caught a 31-yard pass near midfield when Jacksonville Jaguars safety Donovin Darius clotheslined him with his forearm. The NFL fined Darius $75,000. Ferguson sustained head and neck injuries and was carted off the field and taken by ambulance to Bellin Hospital in Green Bay, Wis. The vicious tackle nearly paralyzed him, and he stayed in the hospital for three days.
Ferguson said the mental part was the most difficult part of the healing process. He overcame that after his first contact in pads.
"Once I got my first hit out of the way," Ferguson said. "I was fine."
The injury could augment the bond betweent he two players. Ferguson attended junior college in Murphy's hometown (Tyler, Texas) and the same university as Murphy (Texas A&M University). Ferguson affectionately calls Murphy his "little nephew."
He talked to the second-round draft pick on the phone last night and told him to remain focused, relax and not to worry about football. Rest is the only treatment for neck trauma.
"You've just got let things heal," Ferguson said. "He was scared. I was the same way."
Murphy, a second-round draft pick had displayed flashes of potential. Hip and knee injuries sidelined him for the majority of training camp, every preseason game and Week One of the regular season, but he showcased soft hands, an ability to run crisp routes and a knack for returning kickoffs.
He caught five balls for 36 yards and returned five kickoffs for 91 yards on the season.
"That part is very disappointing for me and for him," Sherman said. "He was coming on. He really had a great week of practice."
The coaching and medical staff deemed it too risky for Murphy to return late this regular season.
"If we were to put him back on the field at eight weeks," Sherman said. "That would probably be a little bit of a rush."
Murphy will remain in Green Bay, Wis. with his parents and focus on recuperating for the 2006 season. He has a role model in Ferguson, who regained his health and participated in all of the offseason activities and started three games this season.
"We're hoping he makes a full recovery and is back on the field for minicamp," Sherman said. "We fully expect that."