After debut, Burks feeling confident in injured pec

Bill Huber

After missing about two months with a partially torn pectoral sustained in the preseason opener on Aug. 8, Oren Burks made his season debut against Dallas on Sunday.

After fellow inside linebackers B.J. Goodson and rookie Ty Summers were injured on a kickoff, Burks played 11 snaps at inside linebacker along with 20 snaps on special teams.

“It was like, ‘Oh, shoot, O.B., let’s go,” inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti said this week. “The plan was to work him in there a little bit and I think that was right about where we needed him to be. He did a good job.”

He was in on a tackle on his first defensive snap.

“It did feel pretty good to get back out on the field, get reintroduced to playing speed,” Burks said on Friday. “I had limited reps in practice last week, so it felt good to get out there in special teams and special situations on defense.”

Following the injury, Burks avoided season-ending surgery and was able to rehab his way back onto the field by strengthening the surrounding muscles. Burks said he was sore but didn’t think that would be an ongoing issue.

“I feel pretty confident with it now,” he said. “It’s just being confident and continuing to play fast.”

The injury was a setback for Burks’ development. Olivadotti spent the offseason working on Burks’ eye discipline to maximize his athletic gifts. Burks was trending the right way before the injury. A couple weeks of practice helped get him up to speed.

“The last two weeks, he’s been in there,” Olivadotti said. “You’ve got to have the feel of having all 21 people around you again. We’re working through that kind of thing. He did a nice job in the game. His eyes were focused on where they needed to be. At that point, it was a different type of game that he was getting into, so he was doing a lot of coverage things. He handled his job pretty good.”

Burks potentially could make his first start on Monday night against Detroit. Goodson, who was acquired from the Giants in a trade on Sept. 3, had been holding down the fort. A third-round pick last year, the Packers need to see what they’ve got after a quiet rookie season.

“I’d been itching to play defense for a while, so it was cool opportunity to get out there and show what I’ve got a little bit,” he said. “It’s just a taste of what I feel like I’m capable of, so I’ve just got to keep it going.”