B.J.'s Raji hopeful 2014 bounce-back season came to an abrupt end against the Oakland Raiders in the preseason. Raji suffered a torn right bicep tendon and left the game without returning. A few hours later he was spotting in the locker room with ice on the arm before finding out from team doctor Pat McKenzie that he popped the tendon. Even though the injury will force him to miss the entire 2014 season during a contract year, he was at least a bit relieved that he found out the news that same night.
"I think what helped me in this process was that, when it happened, Dr. McKenzie told me that night," Raji said on Thursday. "We were hoping for, me just ripping the muscle ... it was a tendon so that night was a tough night for me.
"The tendon popped off, so he had to kind of, anchor it down ... and just let it heal, let it scar around the area so that I can start my rehab process." Raji said.
Raji indicated that his recovery time will be roughly 6-9 months as he prepares to begin rehab in the near future.
"I'm not really looking further than my rehab right now," he explained. "Just trying to get better, making sure that I'm able to start training ... that I'm in good position business wise. I don't want to get crazy out of shape where as people might have some questions. Just doing everything I can to help myself, and whatever happens, happens."
In his 5 NFL seasons, Raji has been one of the most durable players from a health standpoint for the Green Bay Packers by playing in 76 of 80 possible games. It took him until year No. 6 - his most critical one after re-signing on a one-year prove-it deal - to suffer the first major injury of his career.
"I've been playing football for 14 years straight so it's just a part of the game. " Raji said. "I feel fortunate that I've lasted that long without some serious injury. It's really nothing you can do.
"The recovery is not really an issue, we're almost certain that I'll be able to be back 100 percent."
Twenty-seven-year-old Letroy Guion, rookie Mike Pennel, and second-year lineman Josh Boyd will all serve as Raji's replacements at nose tackle while he sits out. Guion is the oldest of the trio, but hasn't been able to establish himself as a consistently productive player, while Pennel and Boyd are still growing in the game.
All of them have been lending an ear to Raji while he's been out as they each continue to grow. That still has the former Boston College product feeling connected with his teammates.
"I still feel like I'm part of the team. I just want to travel with the team, just do everything that I can to help the young guys out. Ultimately as a football player, it's kind of like, ‘what am I going to go do? Go away for 4 or 5 months and just hang out knowing my teammates are battling?' I'd rather be around the team."