Packers' Dorsey ready to compete at crowded receiver spot
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
GREEN BAY--Kevin Dorsey’s toes and foot bear the inch-long, white scars of all three surgeries. The first two happened in college and the last one shut down his rookie season with the Green Bay Packers before it even began.
They are the reason why Dorsey is flying so far under the radar right now. In a receivers meeting room crowded with three draft picks—Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis and and Jeff Janis—and returning challengers Jarrett Boykin and Myles White, Dorsey is the relatively anonymous No. 6 on the field.
And that’s OK—for now.
Sitting at his locker in the very back of the auxiliary wing of the locker room, Dorsey smiled as he finished rubbing lotion on his feet. He’s finally healthy and is ready.
“This is probably the first time I’ve been 100 percent since last year,” said Dorsey. “I feel good, no pain.”
At 6 feet 1 inch and 207 pounds, don’t be surprised if Dorsey, who was drafted by the Packers in the seventh round a year ago, makes a lot of noise in training camp.
“Kevin is the body type you like, he’s explosive, he can run,” said Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements. “He works hard. It’s good to see him out there; he’s improved.”
Dorsey broke a toe in the third preseason game last year and underwent surgery. He had to stay off the foot completely and was on injured reserve for the entire 2013 season. He spent half of that time in Green Bay and the other half back home in Forestville, Md.
“If there was ever a downturn, mentally, I had my family there to support me,” said Dorsey.
Dorsey said there really wasn’t much he could do to prevent all of these foot issues. One toe was stepped on and broken. He was born with an issue in one foot and when it became inflamed in college, he opted for surgery so he could run, plant and pivot. But as he recovered and continued to play elite-level football at the University of Maryland, he put a lot of other pressure on his healthy foot.
“And the other one gave way,” said Dorsey. “My feet are, I guess, just my Achilles’ heel.”
With the time off, he healed ahead of schedule and that helped him to be ready for the offseason work that began in mid-April.
“I could just get back at it, full force,” said Dorsey. “It was good. It was actually kind of easy, because of the surgeries I had before. I knew what to do, coming into it, and how to prepare.”
He also didn’t worry about his status with the Packers.
“I felt like they would still give me a shot—as soon as I was healthy,” said Dorsey.
Feeling grateful just to be back in the mix, Dorsey has been working with nine other receivers on the roster and four quarterbacks through organized team activities and now minicamp, which concludes Thursday. Dorsey said there are plenty of snaps to go around behind the current first group of receivers of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Boykin, and Dorsey can get in the important work with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“We get to know his throwing style, how he likes to call certain plays and do certain signals,” said Dorsey.
After going through four quarterbacks during his senior season at Maryland, it’s been nice for Dorsey to work with a consistent group of Green Bay QBs.
It’s important that Dorsey be able to demonstrate that he can be moved around to different positions, especially with the frequency that the Packers run the no-huddle.
“He can certainly do it, he has the body type,” said Clements. “Has the physique and the skills for it. He does a pretty good job as far as assignments when you move him around.”
He is also being used generously on special teams as a kick returner, on the punt team as a blocker and gunner and on the kickoff team in a safety-type role.
“I love it, it’s opportunity,” Dorsey said of his special teams return duty. “It’s about timing, making sure you have the same timing with the people in front of you—because they can’t hold those blocks forever. You get to where you need to be when they’re ready, then from there you just have to be an athlete and just run.”
To prepare for this summer, Dorsey got stronger and worked on his speed but most of all he worked on his balance. He began with what he called a “realignment” of his hips, ankles and knees and tried something called dry needle acupuncture, which is supposed to help with deep muscle tissue tightness.
“It’s kind of weird,” said Dorsey. “When you get poked the first time, you don’t really feel it, because it is a really thin needle, but when you get to a spot where you’re having trouble—you realize, yeah, that’s a trouble spot.”
Then he really zoned in on his balance. This is critical for athletes. It is not good to favor one knee, foot or ankle coming back from an injury because some other part of the body might start overcompensating, and that puts new body parts at risk for injury.
The Packers have devices to measure balance, including a machine that looks like a blue rectangle pad. Dorsey can catch a ball on it or simply bend over to pick up a cup and see if he is favoring his injured foot or rolling his foot away to the side. The Packers have even used the Nintendo Wii balance board to look at their players.
And right now all the signs for Dorsey are good.