Source: A.J. Hawk had ankle surgery

INDIANAPOLIS -- Green Bay Packers veteran linebacker A.J. Hawk had surgery immediately after the season to remove bone spurs in his ankle, according to a league source.

At several points during the season, Hawk insisted he was not hurt, even while Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, one of his best friends on the team, made mention several times that Hawk was playing hurt.

"He's been dealing with a body that hasn't been responding as well as he wanted to at times," Rodgers said on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show in December.

The source at the NFL scouting combine said Hawk had several painful bone spurs removed by Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina, right after the season. Hawk, according to the source, tried to compensate for the injury (which limited his mobility) by losing weight and playing lighter than his listed 235 pounds.

Hawk played in all 18 games, including playoffs, but he saw his snap counts decline as the season went on.

The former fifth-overall pick in the draft has one year remaining on his contract and is scheduled to make $3.5 million this season if he's on the team. The Packers have not approached Hawk about a pay cut or given him any indication that they plan to release him. However, coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday at the combine that inside linebacker is the Packers' greatest need.

"I think the inside linebacker position could probably be compared to where we were last year at the safety position," said McCarthy. The Packers drafted safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round last year.

"Obviously we had a number of moving parts there. So we'll see what this process that we go through as far as player acquisition, how that affects it. I like the step Sam Barrington made. I thought he made a huge step and that's what you look for."