Report: Could this be the end of Musgrave Play time?

Is it “realistic” for Green Bay Packers tight end Luke Musgrave to return to the lineup on Sunday against the Chicago Bears following last month’s kidney injury?

“We’ll see,” coach Matt LaFleur said, a predictably nondescript answer given the significance of the injury. Then, after a pause, he added: “I’d say it’s realistic, yes.”

Musgrave agreed. While he didn’t definitely say he was ready to play, the tone of voice sounded filled with optimism.

“I feel good,” he said after being limited participation at Thursday’s practice. “We’re still taking it day-by-day, but I feel better than I did yesterday, so I think we’re going in the right direction.”

Just as he had started to emerge as a key playmaker, Musgrave sustained a lacerated kidney against the Chargers on Nov. 19. He’s missed the last six games. Having been designated to return from injured reserve, this is his second week of practice.

“It would be awesome” to be on the field against the Bears, he said. “I want to play as soon as I can. We’ll see. We’re going to take it day-by-day and see what holds.”

Musgrave suffered an ankle injury in Week 5 against Las Vegas. LaFleur didn’t think Musgrave would be available the following week at Denver, but he played and caught four passes.

Kidneys, to state the obvious, are different than ankles. Musgrave was able to play through the pain and tightness in his ankle, but no amount of toughness can reduce the threat to reinjuring a kidney.

“Yeah, that’s definitely what sucks about it but it’s part of the game. Definitely the worst part,” he said. “I think we’re closer to me playing than we were a few weeks ago. So, it’s good.”

Musgrave played through the injury against the Chargers. Only when he got home, after the pain worsened and he saw blood in his urine, did he go to the hospital for testing. Doctors determined he had suffered a laceration that ranked a four on the five-point scale.

Musgrave said it took “a while” to do such mundane things as twist his body. The injury meant a significant amount of inactivity. So, Musgrave has had to get himself back into football shape while proving to himself and everyone else that he’s capable of playing in a must-win game.

He said he’s still not pain-free.

“Not as bad as it used to,” he said.

Through 10 games, Musgrave caught 33 passes for 341 yards. Bubba Franks holds the franchise rookie tight end records with 34 receptions for 363 yards. So, Musgrave was on pace to obliterate those marks.

Can he pick up where he left off after having catches of 25 yards against the Rams and 36 yards against the Steelers before the injury?

“I don’t know. We’ll see,” he said.

Never mind records, though. First and foremost, player safety ultimately will determine whether Musgrave will play this week against the Bears. Another part will be Musgrave’s confidence that he can, for example, extend his arms into the air and make a catch without fear.

“I don’t know if you can think too deeply on it,” he said. “It’s gotten better and I think when I go back out there, it’ll be safe to do so. Definitely try not to think about it.”

After the injury, when Musgrave was stuck at home, he started taking online flight-school classes.

“I’ve always liked planes,” he said, “so I’m definitely really excited for it. I’ve been trying to make the most of the time that I’ve been away but I’m ready to play football again.”

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