Way back from an ACL tear Robert Tonian from Packers enjoys every day | professional football

Green Bay – Robert Tonian did his best to stay positive throughout his comeback. But the tight end of the Green Bay Packers readily admits there have been some dark times as he recovers from a ruptured ACL in his left knee last October.

And there are still those tough times for him, while most of his other teammates are training in bootcamp and spending his time rehab and watching.

“You still have those days here and there because you’re still not out on the field,” Tonian admitted as the first week of Packers camp ended. “It’s just a flow of life with that (recovery) process. It was in the beginning, it was in the middle, it was late. It’s just part of it.







Green Bay Packers’ Robert Tonian runs a practice during an off-season workout on May 31.


Morey Gash, Associated Press Archives


“I think this will eventually make me stronger and make me a different player mentally as well. I’m excited that I got to those points and depths of darkness because… the lower you go, the higher you level up. It just takes you to a different place inside of you.”

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After his breakout season in 2020, when he had 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns — a tie with the Kansas City Chiefs standing All-Pro Travis Kelce for the most TDs in office that season — Tonyan went into 2021 ready for another big year and deal. New profitable at the end of the season.

Instead, he made a slow stat start (15 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 25 goals in the first seven weeks) and then suffered a ruptured ACL in the Oct. His in season – at the end of the third quarter.


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Tonian played the 2021 season in a second-round restricted free agent bidding for $3.384 million, so the injury cost Tonian in the unrestricted free agent market. He ended up settling a $2.45 million one-year deal with the Packers that allows him to earn an additional $1.5 million via per-game roster bonuses.

Tonian was outside Ray Nitschke Field for the first three days of training camp, but was unable to do any actual football practice.

“Basically everything but football now,” Tonian said.


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However, coach Matt LaFleur said Tonian is attacking his rehab every day and that he hasn’t shown any outward signs of how frustrated he is.

“Bobby just came and went straight to work. That’s what we’re looking for. He’s got a great mindset,” LaFleur said. “He’s a team guy. He wants to be around his buddies.

“This is tough for any player who has to go through extensive rehab. I think it teaches you a lot of lessons along the way as well about how to deal with adversity. That’s part of that game. Guys who can do that tend to thrive. I think he’s a thriving guy. In that position. And I can’t wait to get him back there.”

Sure, the Packers would love to have Tonian back in training before the end of boot camp and be ready for the 9/11 season in Minnesota. Tonian himself used the phrase “on schedule” to describe his recovery.

“Obviously that’s the ultimate goal, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” Tonian said of facing the Vikings. “But there is no doubt that this is the general objective.”


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However, given that the team has traditionally treated ACL reconstruction surgeries as a 10- to 12-month recovery, this schedule appears ambitious – particularly in light of the setbacks the left All-Pro faced five times during his return from his team. Suffered a rupture of his left anterior cruciate ligament during practice December 31, 2020.







Robert Tonian, Packers

Green Bay’s Robert Tonian receives a touchdown pass against Jamin Davis of the Washington FL on October 24, 2021 in Green Bay.


Matt Ludtek, Archives of the Associated Press


Tonian said he and general manager Brian Gutkunst and sports medicine director Brian Engel had discussed Tonian’s hopes of returning but had not set a hard and fast date for a return.

“I try not to focus on a game to come back. I just try to feel better every day and adapt to football,” Toonian said. “Speaking with (Engel) and Guti, they just trust me where I am. And whether I’m ahead of the schedule or being conservative, just having short-term goals and taking them day in and day out.

“You never know what is going to happen. I could feel better than I expected, or I could feel worse.”


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Tonian said Bakhtiari was very supportive during the recovery process and was especially helpful right after the injury – “We sit next to each other on the plane flights, so, after that match, he just took me through what I would go through, what I would feel mentally and physically, it was huge. But the dark times are still tough, said Tonian.

Tonian knows the odds he overcame from going from small-school quarterback to non-fabricated NFL free agent to a productive start. So he’s ready to prove himself again, he hopes, to earn himself a long-term deal to stay in Green Bay.

“I’ve worked so hard to move on from being nobody, a man on the coaching squad, and an unbelieving free agent, and I think I’m going to let some of these guys leave here,” Tonian said. “Now, my heart is here. I’m going to take it day in and day out on my knees and have fun every day with these guys in this locker room and just win a Super Bowl.”


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