Ankle Injury To Ryan Grant Forces Packers To Shuffle The Offensive Deck
The Packers finally won a game in Philadelphia after 48 years. But the title contenders paid a heavy price as they saw several injuries that could disrupt the momentum they currently have as they head home to Lambeau Field for a week two contest versus the Buffalo Bills.
When the Packers made their final roster moves and got down to the mandatory 53 players there were several curious moves. Have those moves already come back to haunt them after one week?
Now the team must make adjustments at two key positions. These adjustments could alter the schemes on both sides of the ball.
Brandon Jackson Takes Over at RB After Ryan Grant Suffers Serious Ankle Injury
Brandon Jacson takes over at starting halfback for Packers
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Ted Thompson elected to go into the regular season with only two true halfbacks on the roster. With Ryan Grant's durability and Brandon Jackson's strong training camp, it was concluded that an extra roster spot could be used elsewhere.
Starting fullback John Kuhn could be used as the emergency third halfback as opposed to a young developmental halfback.
After Ryan Grant suffered what coach Mike McCarthy has described as a "serious" ankle injury involving ligament damage in the win versus the Eagles on Sunday, Brandon Jackson will now be expected to handle not only the bulk of the ball carrying, but continue to handle the third down duties as well.
And depending on the results of medical tests being run on Grant's ankle, the former second round draft pick out of Nebraska may be our lead back for quite some time.
The Packers had hoped to sign Kregg Lumpkin to their practice squad after releasing him on the final cut down. Lumpkin had been with the Packers for a full season alternating between the roster and the injured reserve. After a solid training camp, Lumpkin appeared to be in line to make the roster as the third halfback.
Yet the Packers gambled and released the former Georgia Bulldog on the final cut down and told him to remain in Green Bay to be a part of the practice squad.
However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers jumped in and signed Lumpkin to their active roster before the Packers could work out a practice squad contract. This now appears to have hurt the team as they could have used Lumpkin this week versus Buffalo.
Now the question is whether the Packers will look to sign a different back? Or, depending on how long Grant may be out of action, would the Packers look to make a trade?
Several teams have an abundance of healthy backs, including the Buffalo Bills who have dangled former first round pick Marshawn Lynch for trade at some points this offseason.
There are a few veteran running backs looking for a job as well, including former Steeler fast Willie Parker. But it is debatable whether Parker has much gas left in his tank.
The Packers are lucky in that this Sunday they are at home hosting a weak Buffalo Bills team. Jackson and Kuhn should be functional as Aaron Rodgers looks to shake his mediocre performance against the Eagles with an air assault against the Bills.
But if Grant's injury should keep him out of action more than a couple weeks, the Packers will need to bring in a ball carrier if they hope to keep the Super Bowl goal as a reality!
Injuries Leave Packer Defensive Line Depth In Tatters
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During training camp both Ted Thompson and coach McCarthy continued to talk up the fact that former first round draft pick Justin Harrell was healthy and would contribute in the defensive line rotation.
After several seasons lost due to arm and back injuries, could the team finally get a return on their expensive investment?
Harrell's comeback did not even last two quarters as his torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee has ended his season. This most likely ends the Packer career for Harrell who will have only played in 16 games over four seasons after being drafted 16th overall in the 2007 draft. He will go down as one of the biggest busts in Packers history this side of Tony Mandarich.
Compounding matters is the fact that rookie defensive tackle Mike Neal has an abdominal injury that caused him to miss the Eagles game. As of Monday night Packer coaches were not certain if Neal would be ready to play this week.
The defensive line injuries continue as starting defensive end Cullen Jenkins suffered multiple fractures on his hand in Philadelphia. He continued playing with a large protective "club". It is clear that the club will hinder his ability to tackle.
Thompson was fortunate in the fact that recently released defensive end Jarius Wynn was not yet under contract with another club. Reportedly, the Packers will re-sign Wynn today and hopefully have him on the practice field. Wynn was a sixth round draft pick of the Packers in 2009 and played in 11 games as a rookie.
Wynn worked out with the Seattle Seahawks last week. The team , however, waited to offer him a contract until after the first week of the season. Veteran players who are on the roster for the first game of the season are guaranteed their entire salary for the year. Whereas, after week one players can be signed and only paid for the weeks they are on the roster.
Seattle's decision to wait, may have just been a big favor to the Packers. Wynn's full 2009 season plus 2010 training camp in defensive coordinator Dom Caper's system means he should be ready to play this week.
Mike Mccarthy Must Get Contributions From Reserve Players
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With injuries already having depleted two key positions after only one week head coach Mike McCarthy will need to get contributions out of several young reserve players if he hopes to keep the Packers marching towards the playoffs.
Look for the team to work out several running backs and defensive linemen over the next week. I'd expect the practice squad lineup to change to have some emergency depth available.
Packer fans can only hope that the unusual number of injuries in the big week one victory is not an indication of how this season will unfold.