‘It’s football, you play with pain’

Last month’s Packers win over the Chargers carries a particularly painful memory for rookie tight end Luke Musgrave. The second round pick out of Oregon State hauled in a pass, got tackled and eventually landed on the football.

The play caused Musgrave’s kidney to lacerate. But somehow, the 23-year-old was able to remain focused on playing the game instead of thinking about the intense amount of pain that he was likely feeling at the time.

Despite realizing that he had probably suffered a serious injury, Musgrave said that dealing with pain comes with the territory.

“I knew something was probably wrong, but it’s football,” he said on Friday. “You play through pain and then it usually hurts more after the game.”

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Luke Musgrave, #88 of the Green Bay Packers, scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field on November 5, 2023, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Musgrave recalls a postgame trip to the bathroom where he noticed blood in his urine, which prompted him to make a visit to the emergency room.

“I put the pieces together pretty quickly, kind of knew that was a problem,” he said.

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Doctors then confirmed that Musgrave was suffering from a lacerated kidney. Because the severity increased overnight, doctors kept him for an additional night. While he avoided surgery, the injury derailed a strong debut season.

“Yeah, it wasn’t awesome,” Musgrave said. “Internal organs are definitely a little bit different than your normal football injury.”

After Musgrave spent about a month on the sideline, the Packers designated him to return from injured reserve on Thursday. He ultimately did not participate in Thursday’s or Friday’s practices. He has been ruled out for this weekend’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Luke Musgrave makes a catch during an NFL game

Luke Musgrave, #88 of the Green Bay Packers, makes a catch during an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on November 12, 2023, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Perry Knotts/Getty Images)

There are just a handful of games remaining in the regular season, which does not bode well for Musgrave’s prospects of returning to the football field this year.

“My goal is to play as soon as possible,” he said. “With these things, it’s kind of weird, so it just depends on how I’m doing. My goal is to play. That’s my goal, so we’re going to see.”

After this Sunday’s game in Charlotte, the Packers close out the season with games against the Vikings and Bears. The treatment for a lacerated kidney is typically to rest. Reinjuring the kidney can cause significant long-term issues.

Luke Musgrave runs during a Packers game

Luke Musgrave, #88 of the Green Bay Packers, runs for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lambeau Field on November 5, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (John Fisher/Getty Images)

In 10 games, Musgrave racked up 341 receiving yards on 33 catches. In franchise history, only 2000 first-round pick Bubba Franks caught more passes (34) for more yards (363) among rookie tight ends.

Musgrave certainly wants to be on the football field as the Packers make a playoff push, but he is also aware that he will not make his return until it is safe.

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“I’ll play through pain,” he said. “It might be a little different when it comes to internal stuff. I don’t want to have long-term issues, but I’ll play through pain. So, if I’m safe to play, I’ll play through pain.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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