Fears were confirmed on Thursday when Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy announced during his press conference that running back's Johnathan Franklin's career with the team is over after suffering a neck injury last season.
"I have some unfortunate news about Johnathan Franklin, the organization will address this tomorrow, but all the information has come in," said McCarthy. "We've had the chance to sit down and talk to Johnathan the last couple days. He will not be back with us."
Franklin was injured in a Week 12 game against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 24 of last season, during which he also suffered a concussion.
Representatives of the Packers and Franklin himself have shared little to nothing about the running back's injury during the offseason.
Whether the Packers are planning on releasing Franklin or he is going to retire is unclear.
As part of a larger statement published on Twitter following McCarthy's announcment, Franklin said:
Unfortunately this week I have been ruled out of returning for the 2014/15 season and returning to play in the NFL. But I understand God knows what he is doing and for now he has another platform to me to step upon. I ask that you all pray for me during this transition.
After the Packers traded up into the fourth round to select Franklin, he went on to play in just 11 games with the Packers during his rookie season.
Franklin's professional career ended with him carrying the football 19 times for 107 yards and one touchdown. He also caught four passes for 30 yards and returned four kicks for 82 yards.
Highlighting Franklin's lone season with the Packers was a performance against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 when stepped in for an injured Eddie Lacy, John Kuhn and James Starks. Franklin rushed 13 times for 103 yards.
The Packers perhaps saw the writing on the wall when looking at the moves the organization made in the offseason.
First the Packers signed backup James Starks to a two-year, $3.25 million contract in March. Then they went out and signed two productive college running backs in Rajion Neal and LaDarius Perkins despite seemingly having sufficient depth at the position.
"I can't say enough about him as a person," said McCarthy. He's as classy of a young man that's walked through these doors. Anybody's that's had a chance to get to know him, just on and off the field, he's a class act. You always remember his smile, his energy, and so positive, his outlook, just the way he handled this whole process of going through all the different tests and so forth."
UPDATE: Citing Franklin's agent, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports:
Zuckerman said Franklin will be waived/injured: "That's protocol." They plan to talk to another group of doctors "just to get peace of mind"
— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) June 19, 2014
Photo: Packers running back Johnathan Franklin by Kelley L Cox—USA TODAY Sports.
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