The Green Bay Packers must head back to the drawing board now that B.J. Raji is reportedly out for the 2014 season with a torn bicep.
Raji suffered the injury Friday night in a preseason contest against Oakland. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the full details the next day:
Packers NT B.J. Raji is out for the season, as many suspected, with a torn bicep.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 23, 2014
After the game itself, coach Mike McCarthy and Raji himself sounded optimistic about the ordeal, as captured by Rob Demovsky of ESPN:
"He's pretty confident about it," McCarthy said after the Packers’ 31-21 victory.
Tests, though, have put Raji's season in doubt a mere months after the Green Bay front office brought him back on a one-year deal. Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette pointed out that the severity revealed in further testing would determine Raji's fate:
If it is torn bicep for B.J. Raji, what kind of tear will be crucial. Recovery from partial tear typically 3-6 weeks. Full tear 4-6 months.— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) August 23, 2014
There was little else on the open market for Green Bay at the position and the staff figured a move back inside would help the former Boston College star, who last season ranked dead last overall at 3-4 defensive end in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required)—a far cry from his 6.5 sacks in 2010.
Now, the team must turn to undrafted free agent Mike Pennel and Letroy Guion for production in the middle of the defensive unit. Additional talent acquisition seems a must at this point if the unit is to perform at a high level and help the linebackers to provide an adequate rush in the pass-happy NFC North.
Raji's loss does not ruin the Packers' season, but it places more pressure than ever on Aaron Rodgers and the offense.
Statistics courtesy of ESPN.