“All we have to do is get in.” With regard to the NFL playoffs, that’s what the Green Bay Packers’ motto should be. Aaron Rodgers and company got pulverized on a national stage by the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football.
That company was missing more than a couple of business partners.
The Associated Press (via ESPN.com) reported that Green Bay was without wideout Greg Jennings, pass-rushing superstar linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive backs Charles Woodson and Sam Shields. All of those pieces are important to the Packers’ title hopes.
Valuable veterans Woodson and Jennings have been out of the Green Bay lineup for weeks on end. The Packers have managed a 7-4 record without them, but could certainly use the services of their best defensive back and No. 1 wide receiver.
Jennings frequently attracts the attention of the opposition’s No. 1 cornerback when healthy, giving Rodgers more mismatches to work with as guys like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones terrorize other cornerbacks.
He has been out for the majority of the season with different ailments, most notably a torn abdominal muscle. However, Jennings still expects to play this season.
Woodson is the team’s most revered veteran presence on the other side of the ball, as he holds down the back end of the defense. He’s been out for four-plus weeks with a broken collarbone. Given his initial six-week prognosis, Woodson should be back sooner rather than later to resume his duties in the defensive backfield.
Of course, his job will be made easier by the return of Matthews, who sat out Week 12 with a hamstring injury.
These guys have experience playing together. When they’re all ready to suit up again, Green Bay shouldn’t miss a beat on either side of the ball. While there have been some changes on the team—and what team hasn’t had changes?—this Packers squad still has the key pieces of a team that went 15-1 in the 2011 regular season.
And that’s to say nothing of the possible return (per ESPN Milwaukee) of starting running back Cedric Benson.
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