Sean Richardson had two ways to look at his very serious neck injury last season.

He could worry about his future in football.

Or he could be grateful that he still had a future at all.

The 6-foot-2 safety out of Vanderbilt has chosen to concentrate on the latter this off-season while he continues to rehabilitate from the sideline while his peers compete for jobs during the Packers practices in Green Bay.

"I never had a doubt that I wanted to hang it up. Never," said Richardson. "I always keep faith, pray about it and talk to my family. I got a lot of support from the team and outside of the team. It's been a journey and I had the heart for it. I'm excited to get back."

You might remember Richardson — but then again you might not. After a brilliant preseason in which he led the Packers in tackles with 16 and stood out on special teams as well, he was one of four non-drafted rookies to make the roster in 2012.

He was inactive for the first six games of the regular season, hampered by a hamstring injury. Then for five games he was on the field for special teams, playing 91 of a possible 143 snaps. He had four tackles during that span. He also played some safety in the Packers' victory in Detroit on Nov. 18. It was a promising start.

When he got hurt covering the opening kickoff Nov. 25 against the New York Giants, it was his back that tightened up and bothered him, not his neck. He wasn't alarmed.

"I went to practice, practiced for a few days and got a lot better so I was thinking I'd be fine for the next game," said Richardson, which would have been against Minnesota. "That Friday, just as a precaution they wanted to check it out and see what it looked like — and that's when I got the bad news."

He had a herniated disc in his neck.

"Pretty serious," said Richardson.

He was placed on injured reserve Dec. 1. After Richardson's MRI, his doctors wondered if he would not only have to treat the herniated disc but also have a fusion, where one or more vertebrae are united so that motion no longer occurs. They wouldn't know for sure until they operated.