Packers Weekly Progress Report: Bye Week Injury Blues
The Green Bay Packers, quite literally, limped into the bye week.
Since we are on a bye week, it's a good time to take stock of who is populating the M*A*S*H unit tents and when we might expect some of them back.
Most importantly, we'll take a look at what their absence, or return, means to the Packers.
Benson looks to be back no earlier than Week 14, but when he returns he should be able to resume his spot as an important part of this offense.
For now Alex Green and James Starks might work as a dynamic duo for a while, but down the road Benson will be the one who the Packers rely on.
Green is still developing, and Starks is too often hurt. Benson isn't going to be mistaken for Adrian Peterson, but he's got the experience and (normally) the health the Packers will need in a steady backfield presence.
It's hard to say how big an impact this will have this season. While Perry showed promise on multiple occasions, his overall effect on the defense had been limited at best. Since he was shifting from defensive end to outside linebacker, that's to be expected.
It makes his absence not as bad as it could be. While he may develop into a productive force across from Clay Matthews, it hasn't happened yet and plugging in someone around Perry's spot won't be too hard.
Speaking of Matthews....
The Packers may have dodged a much more serious bullet with Matthews' injury. It would be worse if the bye week wasn't now, but the off week will help him heal up without missing a ton of time or critical games.
Longer and it would be a big issue, since Matthews is tied for second in the league for sacks.
This could sting a bit as Bulaga's hip might force him out of action for quite a while. How long? Long enough to where the Packers aren't even speculating—not even fake speculating where they throw a number out at you to shut you up.
More than likely T.J. Lang will shift over to cover for Bulaga and Evan Dietrich-Smith will probably replace Lang at right guard.
An X-factor in the long-term effects of this could be the return of our next contestant in "who's hurt now?"
Finally off the PUP, Sherrod is still probably a ways from being ready for prime time. That said, he was a highly thought of draft pick and at the very least could be thrust into a starting role if someone else goes down.
Sherrod is way behind in his development, and it would be dire straits if the team had to put him in on a regular basis right now.
Down the road, though, he could be a key piece.
The tight end is finally off the PUP list and returning to action. Now you might be wondering why that would matter much. Between D.J. Williams, Tom Crabtree and Jermichael Finley, do they need another tight end?
Quarless will help seal up the offensive line issues, though, and his blocking will both help protect Rodgers and road grade for the running backs.
He won't crack the lineup as a pass catcher, but as a blocker? Quarless could be very useful.
Fresh off of surgery, Jennings is still weeks away from returning, but this offense really hasn't missed him. The question was, can they get along without him?
The question has become, do they even need him?
With Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb, the answer doesn't look as clear as it once did.
I think it was a mistake to play through the injury last week, but a Sunday off will do Nelson's hamstring and ankle a world of good, and he'll step back into the role of starter he's had all season when healthy.
Losing him has been a bit hard, but Cobb and Jones have stepped up and filled the void.
Expected back after the bye week, Shields will have to fight with Casey Hayward and Davon House for playing time.
That's an indication that while losing him wasn't ideal, it hasn't hurt them that much.
Woodson going down looked scary, and while M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian haven't been perfect, they've held serve at safety. McMillian is proving to be a very solid safety in the making.
McMillian is a sharp player who has a good nose for the ball and hits hard.
Woodson comes back in Week 14 (hopefully), but the safety position hasn't lost much of a step in his absence.
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