Looking live: Jerel Worthy tore his ACL in the final regular-season game in 2012 and underwent knee surgery in January 2013. It was going to be a long road to recovery for Worthy, with coach Mike McCarthy admitting at the 2013 Scouting Combine that "training camp is definitely going to be a stretch." Worthy was a lot more optimistic about his immediate future. "I’m going to be ready to go when the season comes around," Worthy said in Jan. 2013. "I’ll be ready to roll." In late May, Worthy told FOXSportsWisconsin.com that he was determined to have his recovery be on the fast track like Adrian Peterson’s was. As expected, though, Worthy was placed on the preseason Physically Unable to Perform list, and he ended up missing every training camp practice.
Upon further review: Worthy remained unavailable at the start of the regular season, unable to fulfill his previously stated goal of being ready by that time. By mid-October, nearly 10 months after the injury, Worthy was getting close. "He looks good," McCarthy said on Oct. 17, 2013. "He’s confident he’s where he needs to be." That same week, defensive coordinator Dom Capers started thinking about how he might use Worthy upon getting activated. "Jerel certainly has a skill set to where with our sub-package, because of his size and his quickness, he can do good things there," Capers said at the time. On Nov. 13, Worthy was on the practice field for the first time since tearing his ACL. And, Worthy was right back to his old tricks. "He jumped offsides twice, so I knew he was back, unfortunately," McCarthy said with a laugh. Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac stated on Nov. 15 that Worthy "came back a little bit bigger than you would normally like." Trgovac added, "I told him, ‘Look, we’ve got a bunch of 310-, 315- (3)20-pounders, we don’t need any more of those. We need your elusiveness and your quickness.’ He’s done a nice job of getting his weight back down. He’s at his fighting weight now." On Nov. 23, Worthy was finally activated from the reserve/PUP list. He played 10 snaps in Week 12 against Minnesota, and, as should be expected under the circumstances, he didn’t look like himself yet. But, with the Packers fighting for their playoff lives, they didn’t have time to just let Worthy work it out during valuable in-game snaps. He didn’t play again until Week 17, and even then it was only two snaps. Worthy played another two snaps in the wild-card round playoff loss, but clearly Green Bay had no real plans for him during the 2013 season.
Overall 2013 grade: Incomplete
Status for 2014: Ninety-five percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster to begin the 2014 season. Worthy will have a lot of competition on the defensive line in 2014, with three players who were picked after he was all ahead of him on the depth chart right now (Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Josh Boyd). Worthy wasn’t impressive as a rookie in 2012 either, so he has a lot of work to do to convince Green Bay’s coaching staff to give him a serious look for anything other than a minor role in the defense. Given that his work in college at Michigan State was good enough to be a second-round pick, the talent is there somewhere for Worthy. He’ll be 19 months removed from tearing his ACL when training camp begins in July 2014, so that won’t be a good excuse if he doesn’t perform well. The 2014 season will go a long way in determining just how much value Worthy adds to the Packers roster.
Next: This is the final edition of this year’s Packers Annual Checkups. You can read all of them here.