Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Jeremy Thompson was hospitalized for testing Friday after suffering a neck injury in a collision with running back Kregg Lumpkin during practice.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Thompson remained conscious after the neck stinger. Thompson, a second-year player out of Wake Forest who plays primarily on special teams, missed the Packers‘ first two preseason games because of a shoulder stinger earlier this year.
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McCarthy would not initially say whether Thompson was able to move his extremities, but the Packers said in a statement Friday evening that Thompson did not experience any paralysis.
The team classified the injury as a neck sprain and said Thompson would be kept overnight at Bellin Hospital for rest and further evaluation.
Lumpkin said he could see Thompson moving his feet after the two collided on a play.
“I got the ball, I saw an open lane and I cut back, and that’s when I saw Jeremy in the hole,” Lumpkin said. “I didn’t lower my head or anything, but his head hit my shoulder pad. When that happened, he just said, ‘Oh no!’ And he fell on the ground. After that, I was just standing there (asking), ‘What really just happened?’
“I just was hoping he’d get back up, and he didn’t.”
Lumpkin, a member of the Packers‘ practice squad, was visibly shaken up by the incident, which comes three days before Monday night’s home game against Baltimore.
“Just the other week, we were talking – about a lot of stuff, about how things happen,” Lumpkin said. “I had no clue that it would happen like this, or that anything would happen today. It’s messing with my head. Me and him are close, we talk about a lot of stuff. It’s tough to say ‘I’m all right.’ That’s somebody I talk to on a regular basis. If he’s still in the hospital (after meetings), I’m going to go over there.”
Rookie linebacker Clay Matthews III was optimistic Thompson can recover quickly.
“Hopefully he can come back from that just with a little time off, let it just settle down, and get right back out there,” Matthews said. “Hopefully it’s not as serious as we thought. But we’re all praying for him to have a speedy recovery.”
Thompson has been getting more snaps on defense in the wake of a season-ending knee injury to Aaron Kampman.
With Matthews starting on the right side, rookie Brad Jones has played the majority of snaps in Kampman’s place on the left side, but Thompson and Brady Poppinga have been playing as well.
“He’s definitely in the game plan this week, so I know I’m going to have to gear up to take a majority of those reps, especially with him and Brady spelling both Brad and I,” Matthews said. “But I look forward to the challenge, I think the whole team does. Any time you have an injury like that where a player stays down, it really takes a toll.”