The Packers have finally hit the long awaited part of their schedule: the bye week. Green Bay is arguably one of the most battered teams in the NFL with injuries on both sides of the ball.
Offense: The major injury the Packers sustained early on was with Greg Jennings re-aggravating a groin injury in Week 4 against the Saints. Jennings’ surgery was delayed due to Hurricane Sandy and will be out for an additional 3-5 weeks.
Packers’ General Manager Ted Thompson is not known for his off-season moves when it comes to free agency but with a lack of running back depth he went out and signed Cedric Benson, former Chicago Bear and Cincinnati Bengal, who rushed for 1,000+ yards in his last three seasons. The Packers started seeing a bit of balance in their offense with the physical running style Benson brought to the field. Unfortunately, Benson suffered a Lisfranc injury (foot) in Week 5 against the Colts and his return to the season is in jeopardy; he may return to the team late this season.
Another weapon Aaron Rodgers has been missing for the last two weeks has been Jordy Nelson. Nelson was out in Week 8 against the Jaguars with a hamstring injury, which is unusual for Nelson considering he has no history of the injury. In Week 9 he geared up against the Cardinals only to suffer a sprained ankle early in the game.
The Packers offensive line has struggled early on in this 2012 season but it may have gotten a bit worse with right tackle Bryan Bulaga. At about the mid-point of the game against the Cardinals, Bulaga suffered a hip-pointer injury. This had the Packers shifting multiple lineman to different spots on the line. Bulaga is said to be out for “a significant amount of time.”
Defense: Are you ready? The laundry list is long. Let’s start with pre-season football where the Packers lost their starting middle linebacker Desmond Bishop with a torn hamstring. Packers staff and even fans were not terrified at the loss of Bishop. With Ted Thompson’s great eye on draft prospects, D.J. Smith filled in quite nicely. Smith, a sixth round selection in the 2011 draft, was playing great football until he suffered a “significant knee injury,” or most likely an ACL tear, which ended his season. Brad Jones has taken over for Smith as well as some of the play calling on defense.
Another story going into training camp and throughout the pre-season was the move Charles Woodson had to make from cornerback to strong safety. Woodson was not making much noise in the secondary for the Packers early in the season but was still getting the job done. Then along came the injury bug and nabbed Woodson with a broken collarbone. Woodson was initially ruled out for six weeks with a return towards the end of the season.
With a horrid Packers defense in 2011, Ted Thompson and company spent their first six draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. Their first round selection, outside linebacker Nick Perry, was starting to jell with the Packers’ defensive unit. Unfortunately, the Packers placed Perry on IR after their clash with the Cardinals. Perry had 18 tackles and 2 sacks on the season.
Other Injuries: Let’s stick with the defense. B.J. Raji went out against the Colts in Week 5 with an ankle injury. He was out for weeks 6 and 7 and made his return for week 8 against the Jaguars.
Clay Matthews made an early exist in week 9 against the Cardinals with a hamstring injury. According to Head Coach Mike McCarthy, Matthews could miss “a couple weeks.” Thankfully for the Packers the bye week has arrived.
Consensus: Green Bay is on a four game win streak thanks to their last three match ups against the Rams, Jaguars and Cardinals whos win/lose records add up to 8-18. It only gets tougher after the bye week with a Giants game on the horizon and an additional five divisional games. But the Packers have been down this road before as an injury riddled team to sneak into the playoffs as a 6th seed and win a Superbowl. It looks too familiar. Watch out.
Written By – David Rantisi- Founder and NFC North Writer
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