The slogan "next man up" is used regularly around the NFL to describe players needing to step up and fill in when a teammate goes down with an injury.
That statement may ring true for the Green Bay Packers more than any other team. The Packers have dealt with an array of injuries to starting players all season long.
Sunday night the Packers found themselves missing five starters and in need of some players to step up and be the "next man up." They found players willing to do that on both sides of the ball during their 27-20 victory over the Detroit Lions.
For the defense, rookie defensive end Mike Daniels stepped in for injured starter C.J. Wilson and made one of the key plays of the game. Down 14-3 in the first half, Matthew Stafford fumbled the football on an attempt to get the ball out quickly and Daniels picked it up and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. The score helped the Packers weather a first half in which they had only 15 offensive plays.
Also on defense, the Packers had cornerback Sam Shields return after having missed six games with an injury. Shields responded in his first game back with a crucial first half interception that shut down a Lions drive near the end of the first half.
In the second half it was the offense that had some familiar and some not so familiar faces show up. Second-year running back DeJuan Harris made his first carries of the season and stepped up in a big way with the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Packers the lead for good.
The offense was helped on that drive from a familiar face back with the team for the first time this season in running back Ryan Grant. Grant contributed a 14-yard run right before Harris' go-ahead score.
With new players stepping up on both sides of the ball, the Packers find themselves not needing to rely on just a few players to come up with plays for the team. This kind of depth may prove to be invaluable as the Packers prepare to get injured players back for the playoff run.