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
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 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
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
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
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