GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers linebacker Frank Zombo fears that his season-long string of injuries are ruining his chance to play in the NFL.
Zombo's third injury of the season a hamstring strain will keep him out of the lineup in Green Bay's next game. It will be the eighth time in 10 games this season that an injury will force Zombo out of action.
"I'm trying not to be scared, but, are my chances running out on me?" Zombo said at his locker Tuesday. "I'm trying to stay as long as I can and little things are just keeping me away from it. It's frustrating. It's taking its toll.
Zombo suffered the hamstring strain in the third quarter of the Packers' Week 9 win in San Diego. He missed the first five games of the season with a shoulder injury, but once Zombo was back on the field, he hyper-extended his knee and missed the next game.
"How many more times can this happen to me?" Zombo said. "Obviously I'm just really frustrated and the best thing to do is stay positive, but it's hard to do in a situation like this when it just keeps coming.
Zombo has recorded four tackles in his limited time on the field this season. It's gotten to the point that getting paid to contribute those types of numbers has come with a sense of guilt.
"I feel like I'm stealing in a way," Zombo said. "I want to get out there and play and I want to earn my check. These injuries are keeping me from doing that.
Though Zombo acknowledges how supportive Green Bay's coaches and training staff have been, he worries that he's letting them down.
"I feel sorry for them," Zombo said. "I feel like going up to them and apologizing.
As he sat at home and in the trainer's room in the days since his latest injury, Zombo has tried to figure out what could have caused his hamstring strain. He wondered if the long plane ride from Green Bay to San Diego played a part. Did coming back too soon from his knee injury factor in? Coming out of halftime, were his legs not properly warmed up for the second half?
"Am I living wrong?" Zombo added. "I'm not someone who drinks during the season or anything like that. I try to get good sleep. I'm trying to do everything right. It's just an unlucky time, I guess.
For a player who went undrafted out of college, Zombo had to earn his opportunities in the NFL. He secured a spot on Green Bay's 2010 roster by leading the team during the preseason in sacks and tackles.
Zombo proved his value immediately when despite playing only four snaps he recorded his first career regular-season sack in his NFL debut by taking down Philadelphia's Michael Vick.
But, Zombo also understands how much of a setback injuries can be.
Zombo started eight games as a rookie, but would not have had that opportunity had it not been for injuries to opening-day starting linebacker Brad Jones, as well as Brady Poppinga. He certainly made the most of his starts, finishing the regular season with four sacks, the fourth-most on the Packers.
Then Zombo was hit with an injury of his own, hurting his knee and missing the final three regular-season games and Green Bay's playoff road wins in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago. He returned just in time for the Super Bowl where Zombo was back in his starting role and recorded the only sack in the game against Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger.
Since then, the injury bug has kept Zombo from being able to build on his success as a rookie.
"I had probably everybody I know text me or call me and I can't even answer," Zombo said. "I was dreading coming in (the locker room) today just to talk about it. I just can't talk about these injuries anymore.
It's not that Zombo can't play through pain. Coach Mike McCarthy has described Zombo as a "tough kid"on many occasions, but it was different this time.
"I broke my scapula; I played through that," Zombo said. "I sprained my PCL; I played through that. I hyper-extended my knee and I played through that. When I hurt that hamstring, I'm like, There's no way I'm playing through this.' They hurt really bad and it disables your whole leg.
"I didn't want to go up to the trainers or anything. I was just like, For real?' It was just a shocker and frustrating.
NOTES: The Packers signed offensive tackle Chris Campbell to the practice squad and released offensive lineman Paul Fenaroli from the practice squad. Campbell was on Green Bay's practice squad for 15 regular-season games last season.
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