Packers' Loss of Charles Woodson Due to Broken Collarbone Just a Bump in Road

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2012

With the news of Charles Woodson's broken collarbone, a secondary that had finally found firm ground appears to be thrown for a loop instead.

However, while losing a player of Woodson's caliber is always tough, this is by no means insurmountable for the Packers' secondary.

First of all, this is a concern much more for the safety group than the corners, as Woodson was playing a lot more safety than cornerback.

So things at the corners will mostly remain the same, with perhaps an uptick in reps for Casey Hayward and Davon House. Still, the primary players are Tramon Williams and, when healthy, Sam Shields.

The ripple effect on the safeties is a little more of a concern. The Packers have the players, but filling Woodson's shoes will require rookie Jerron McMillian and second-year player M.D. Jennings to grow as players just a little bit quicker.

Both have played well this season, though Jennings has seen more action than McMillian.

In fact, if we're talking "next man up," the nod will probably start with Jennings. 

Both men will see more time because neither one is ready to see the field as a full-time replacement.

Woodson has a very good nose for the football, and it's a lot to ask of either of the two players I mentioned to be "that guy."

Morgan Burnett, however, has the experience and skill to take over some of Woodson's responsibilities, and really, losing him would likely have been a bigger blow.

While Woodson was on the downside of a career and changing positions, Burnett is just in his third year and had been—and would have continued to be—a more consistent and important player in the secondary.

Burnett is aggressive against the run and a willing hitter against the pass. Both Jennings and McMillian have that trait as well, though not as much time on the field to refine it.

It does make one wonder if the safeties might be even more physical, because as much as Woodson had no issues delivering a big hit, his body doesn't have the strength and speed it used to.

These three safeties might actually be a more physical group compared to the duo of Burnett and Woodson.

With Woodson gone six weeks, it will be interesting to see if the style of the defense—or, more directly, the personality of the secondary—changes.

Speaking of six weeks of games without All-Pro Charles Woodson—if you were going to lose a key player, the Packers are in the right spot of the schedule.

As Twitter follower (and one assumes, Vikings fan) Judd Zulgad's Hoodie says, with a schedule of Jacksonville, Arizona, then the bye week followed by Detroit, the Giants and Minnesota, the Packers should weather the storm even if the drop in talent turns out to be much bigger than we expect.

The Jaguars' offense and quarterback situation is terrible, as is Arizona's (and Williams can blanket Larry Fitzgerald anyway). Then, the Packers have a week of rest to prepare for the Lions.

It isn't safe to assume the Lions will be pushovers no matter what their record is, but again, how much impact would Woodson have there? Sure, he has seen it all, and that (along with his leadership) will be missed.

But considering the way the secondary is playing, the Lions' issues using their receivers not named Calvin and the Packers' front seven ability to pressure Matthew Stafford, it's not inconceivable to think they can mitigate the Stafford/Johnson combination.

The Vikings are hard to predict because it's not clear where Ponder will be in a month and a half. However, it's safe to say that the Vikings will run Adrian Peterson and throw short to Percy Harvin.

That might be where they miss Woodson, with his willingness to get dirty on short-yardage plays. But he hadn't been too effective in that particular coverage anyway (he's always there, but not making tackles the same way).

In the end, though, the Packers should be fine if everyone plays the way they are capable of. The schedule is favorable and the roster depth—as always—is fantastic.

The Packers should ride this out just fine. If they have problems on the defensive side of the ball, it won't be because Woodson is out.


Check out the B/R NFC North Facebook page—like us and keep up with everything NFC North on Bleacher Report.

Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.