Banged-up Packers focused on Arizona

The Green Bay Packers played without eight starters last

weekend, and coach Mike McCarthy added two more players to the

injury list on Monday.

The flood of injuries affected Green Bay’s practice schedule in

the run-up to Sunday’s lackluster 24-15 victory over Jacksonville,

but McCarthy isn’t about to use them as an excuse.

”The injuries are part of the game. It’s unfortunate on a

personal level,” McCarthy said. ”There’s things that go on in our

world in the game of football that are just unsaid. It’s just the

way you go about your business. It’s what you accept and it’s part

of the grind of an NFL season.

”People ask me, `How does it impact your football team?’ I’ve

never taken the time to try to quantify the impact it has on your

team.”

Wide receivers Greg Jennings (torn abdominal muscle) and Jordy

Nelson (hamstring), fullback John Kuhn (hamstring) and running back

Cedric Benson (sprained foot) were among the starters who missed

Sunday’s game. Safety Charles Woodson (broken collarbone),

cornerback Sam Shields (ankle) and linebackers Nick Perry (knee),

D.J. Smith (knee) and Desmond Bishop (hamstring) also were out.

Jennings was scheduled to undergo sports hernia surgery in

Philadelphia on Tuesday, but McCarthy said it was postponed because

of the superstorm on the East Coast.

”Exactly when he will go? That has not been determined yet,”

McCarthy said.

McCarthy also added defensive ends Jerel Worthy (concussion) and

Mike Neal (knee) to the list of injured players.

The increasing amount of injuries affected Green Bay’s

preparations for the game against Jacksonville. For instance, with

so many players down, McCarthy cut practices short on Wednesday and

Thursday. Offensive coordinator Tom Clements estimated that the

team lost roughly 15 percent of its regular practice snaps.

”Which we had to do just because of the injury situation trying

to keep guys healthy,” he said. ”But we didn’t have as many `live

reps,’ if you want to call them that.

”Obviously when you don’t have quality guys like (Jennings and

Nelson), you have to overcome it. (But) injuries are a fact of life

in the NFL. You try to avoid them, and it’s unfortunate when top

guys get hurt, but you have to play with the guys who are

there.”

Said defensive coordinator Dom Capers: ”You have to adapt based

on who you have out there, but I don’t think it’s made us any less

aggressive. If you look at our numbers over the last three weeks,

we’ve been the most aggressive. So maybe it goes the other way. But

you adapt.”

Amid Green Bay’s health-related misfortune, there is good news:

It should get most of the ailing players back. Benson is on injured

reserve but has been designated for return, which he says he is on

schedule to do.

”That is the positive,” said Benson, who could play in the

Dec. 9 game against Detroit. ”Everybody’s expecting to come back

and looking forward to coming back and really excited about coming

back. That is the positive thing in all these injuries.”

And the Packers (5-3) are still winning despite all the missing

players. They have won three in a row heading into Sunday’s home

game against Arizona.

”Especially if you can get victories now with your key

playmakers down,” outside linebacker Clay Matthews said. ”Getting

those guys back, they should return with fresh legs, healthy, ready

to make an immediate impact. If we’re looking down the road, guys

like Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, a healthy B.J.

(Raji), you get all these guys healthy, you have your team at full

strength, and that’s when you want to peak is at the end of the

season.”

NOTES: Third-year running back James Starks, who had an 8-yard

run and 9-yard reception Sunday, won’t see his role expand

significantly but could see slightly more playing time, according

to McCarthy.