Charles Woodson: Improved Packers Defense Will Take Step Back Due to DB's Injury

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 30:  Strong safety Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers  looks on against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field on September 30, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Even at 36, Charles Woodson remains a key piece of the Green Bay Packers defense. Losing him for an extended period of time will be a huge blow for the unit and there's really no way to replace a player with his type of experience.

Last season, the Packers defense was the worst in football in terms of yards allowed at more than 410 per game. However, the weakness wasn't exposed until the playoffs when the New York Giants scored at-will to eliminate Green Bay.

With the offense struggling to match its efficiency from last season, the Packers defense has been forced to step up and has certainly shown signs of improvement. They are giving up nearly 70 less yards per game while still forcing turnovers.

While it hasn't transformed into an elite unit by any means, the Packers would be in far worse shape if not for improvements on that side of the ball.

That's why losing Woodson right now is such a tough pill to swallow. The veteran defensive back has handled his transition to safety extremely well. He has racked up 38 tackles, 1.5 sacks and an interception in seven games.

More importantly, he has continued to provide the defense with necessary veteran leadership. He's one of the most reliable players in the league and that's a strong example to set, especially after being asked to shift around the secondary.

Even though Woodson isn't the same playmaker he was during his prime, he still manages to have an impact on a weekly basis. Rarely does a game go by without his name being brought up multiple times, and that will be impossible to replace.

The Packers will probably use a committee approach in an attempt to replace him with M.D. Jennings, who is on the complete opposite end of the experience scale, among the leading candidates to see more action.

Woodson is expected to miss around six weeks with a broken collarbone, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. That means he should be available for the stretch run, which is setting up to be far more important this season than last for the Packers.

If there's a silver lining, it's the fact that Green Bay doesn't face many high-powered passing attacks during that time frame. It faces the Jacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Cardinals before its Week 10 bye.

Woodson's absence probably won't be fully felt until the Packers face the Giants and Detroit Lions later in the month. By then, at least the backups with have some experience under their belts.

That said, they won't be able to completely replace what Woodson brings to the table.