Sean Richardson is anxious. He's also fortunate. Watching from the sidelines while his teammates compete hasn't been easy for the Green Bay Packers' second-year safety, but Richardson's positive progress since undergoing neck surgery in January has given him hope that he'll soon be back on the field.

"I'm close to 100 percent," Richardson said in the locker room. "We don't have a timetable yet, but we're taking it day by day, step by step. Rehab is going great. I'll be back soon. I'm pretty close."

Late last season, Richardson wasn't quite sure what was wrong with him. He suffered a back injury in Week 12 and started experiencing back spasms in the days following that game.

"The neck really didn't bother me at all," Richardson said. "It was more of my back. I practiced a few days and it got a lot better, so I thought I'd be fine for the next game. But that Friday, it was just precautionary that they wanted to check it out and see what it looked like.

"That's when I got the bad news."

The bad news was that Richardson was placed on injured reserve and that his injury would require surgery.

"A herniated disk in the neck," Richardson said. "That's pretty serious."

Understanding that the results of this surgery could affect not only his NFL career but also his post-football life, Richardson began doing extensive homework on surgeons. The recommendations he received came back almost unanimously that Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon Robert Watkins was his best option.

"He's the same guy that did Peyton Manning's surgery," Richardson said. "When I went there, I was amazed at how many players had been out there and had the same injury I had. He was one of the best (surgeons), if not the best.

"It gave me a lot of hope, because when he said Peyton Manning, I know Peyton Manning wanted the best. He went out looking for the best and he's one of the best. I felt pretty confident. (Watkins) had done the surgery multiple times."

Once Richardson found his surgeon, there was still a lot of uncertainty surrounding his injury. Richardson was told that a two-level fusion may have to be performed but that it wouldn't be determined until the operation had begun.

Fortunately for Richardson, that additional surgical work wasn't necessary.

"After the surgery (Watkins) said it wasn't nearly as bad as they thought it was, and that was a great sign," Richardson said. "There wasn't any nerve damage, so that was a plus. A lot of things that they had planned on doing in the neck they didn't have to do, so it was great."

Richardson was then put on bed rest for a few weeks and told not to do anything. Soon after, his early rehabilitation work involved exercises to improve the muscles around his neck. Having avoided any setbacks in his recovery, Richardson was able to progress quickly throughout this offseason.

"It's been a long journey, but I've been staying focused and positive," Richardson said. "The coaches and the players are keeping me up, and the trainers are doing a great job. The doctor did a great job. The injury, it doesn't give me any problems.