After being drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, offensive lineman Cole Madison never reported to Training Camp.

Madison told reporters on Tuesday at the Green Bay Packers voluntary minicamp that his absence was necessary to focus on “mental health” without the distraction of football.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Madison said.  “I love football, but at that point it was my health, and my life was on the line.  I had to go help myself before my football career.”

It had been widely reported that Madison’s mental healthy issues had to do with former Washington State quarterback and teammate Tyler Hilinski’s suicide in January of 2018.  But Madison said his mental health concerns started before his teammates death.

Madison said he didn’t think about football for much of last year.  He didn’t even watch games.

“This last year was just really for me day by day, taking everything day by day,” Madison said.  “It wasn’t really looking into the future.  Then that day came where I was like, ‘Hey, you know, I’m coming back.  I want to play some ball.’  So that brought us here.”

The Packers went out and signed free agent Billy Turner in free agency, but general manager Brian Gutekunst said Monday that it was a pleasant surprise for Madison to report to off-season workouts this spring.

Madison took reps at center and left guard during his first practice on Tuesday.  He figures to fit in well with new coach Matt LaFleur’s outside zone blocking scheme than he did in former coach Mike McCarthy’s system.

Madison missed a year of football and that’s never easy.  But Gutekunst said Madison has kept himself in shape and he looks good as he gets ready for his first NFL season.

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