Packers' Blackmon rehabs injury, then proves he's a gamer
There on the scrawl across the bottom of his TV screen, his name appeared in the NFL news update.
It said, “Will Blackmon, Packers, out for the season.”
Let’s just say Blackmon didn’t finish his game.
He was out of action with a broken bone in his foot, but thought he would be able to return this season. So the announcement on his TV screen set him back.
“So I called up Pepper (Burress), our trainer, and said, ‘I’m out for the year?’ He said, ‘No, you’re not.’ I said, ‘Well for whatever reason, it’s on my computer game.’”
Next time Blackmon plays the game, he might see himself scoring a touchdown. The second-year pro made his debut from his injury with a two-touchdown game Sunday in the Packers’ 38-7 victory over Oakland.
Blackmon, subbing for Charles Woodson as the team’s punt returner, grabbe Shane Lechler’s punt in full stride, broke through the first line of defenders and went 57 yards for a score.
He then concluded the scoring in the third quarter when he chased down an Oakland fumble on a punt and recovered it in the end zone.
The two touchdowns made all the work he had to do to get back on the field worth it.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s easy for someone to get down, but Ted (Thompson) said they’re going to keep me on the active roster and not put me on (injured reserve) because he has faith. My teammates kept me positive all the time.”
Blackmon took a gamble on the punt return when he ran up to catch the ball. Blackmon was an easy target, but no Raiders was able to get a shot at him.
“Really, really early I saw a path when I was chasing the ball down,” Blackmon said. “I said ‘If I catch this, it’s there.’”
The punt return gave him a chance to do his first Lambeau Leap, which turned out to be a bigger challenge than he expected.
“The wall is high,” Blackmon said. “I had to gear up on my jump.”
Ryan Grant had a career-high 156 yards rushing on 29 carries.
He now has 744 yards rushing on the season, which means he needs 256 yards against St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit to reach the 1,000-yard mark.
Grant only joined the team before the first week of the season and was the No. 3 back for most of the early games. Running for 1,000 yards never entered the picture.
“I want to win,” Grant said. “If it (1,000 yards) happens, that’s definitely something special, but No. 1 is we want to win games.”
Grant ran through some huge holes, which he credited for his success.
“If we’re lucky enough (to reach 1,000 yards), it’s just a tribute to the guys up front,” Grant said. “They’ve been doing a hell of a job. We’re executing.”
Told of Grant’s comments, offensive tackle Mark Tauscher said, “He’s a bright young man.”
The temperature was 16 degrees, but Oakland coach Lane Kiffin didn’t want to hear anyone blaming the weather on his team’s loss.
“I don’t think the cold didn’t tackle today,” he said. “I don’t think the cold threw incompletions today, and I don’t think the cold had nine penalties—we did.”
Raider quarterback Josh McCown was impressed by what he saw.
“They are a good football team,” McCown said of the Packers. “They are up there with the better defenses that we have faced.”
-- Despite Blackmon’s punt return for a touchdown, Woodson was short and to the point when asked if he was giving up his punt return duties for good.
“I’ll be back there next week,” he said, and turned for the next question.
-- The Packers are 15-2 over their last 17 games.
-- Quarterback Brett Favre threw for 266 yards, putting him at 61,178 for his career. He is 183 yards away from Dan Marino’s career record of 61,361 yards. That mark should fall Sunday at St. Louis.
-- The Packers might want to move to the AFC West. They swept games against Denver, San Diego and Oakland this year and have a six-game winning streak against teams in that division. Of course, they’re not doing too badly in the NFC North, either.
-- Blackmon’s two special-team touchdowns marked the first time Packer special teams accomplished that feat since Travis “The Roadrunner” Williams returned two kicks for TDs against Pittsburgh on Nov. 2, 1969.