Despite having fifteen players on the injured reserve this season, the Green Bay Packers have made an astounding run to Super Bowl XLV.
Fair-weather fans that didn’t jump ship when Ryan Grant went down most likely abandoned playoff hopes when Finley was lost for the year. Injuries depleted the defense as well, but help was ready and eagerly waiting.
Those cheery cheeseheads that stuck with the Green and Gold have been greatly rewarded thanks to four rookies that have stepped up and helped the Pack overcome adversity.
Probably the most devastating blow to the Packers in 2010 was the season-ending knee surgery of third year player Jermichael Finley.
The big-bodied and athletic Finley was expected to have a breakout season, but it was cut short early in an overtime loss to the Redskins.
Luckily for the Pack, they selected Andrew Quarless out of Penn State in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Quarless stepped in right away as a target for Aaron Rodgers and caught four balls for 51 yards in that loss.
Two weeks later he scored his first, somewhat controversial, NFL touchdown in a big home win against the rival Minnesota Vikings.
When veteran Mark Tauscher hit the IR with a shoulder injury, Bulaga was officially, and in some experts’ opinions prematurely, forced into the starting right tackle role.
Despite occasionally making some rookie mistakes and drawing flags, the first-round draft pick started 12 games and helped solidify an offensive line that had given up 51 sacks in 2009.
Bulaga was highly thought of coming out of Iowa and looks to be the long-term solution for the Packers O-line.
Non-existent. That was the definition of the Packers running game until James Starks from Buffalo came off the PUP list.
I witnessed first-hand the tragedy of the bum ankle that has kept Ryan Grant on the sidelines since Week 1 when he crawled out of his SUV on crutches prior to the Miami game.
After the news that he was done for the season, Packers fans looked to Marshawn Lynch trade rumors and the underachieving Brandon Jackson for hope.
However, Starks burst onto the scene against the 49ers and has surprised everyone ever since. In his debut he rushed for 73 yards and in the Wild Card Round against the Eagles he exploded for his first 100-yd game.
In doing so he became the first Packer rookie to rush for over one hundred yards in the postseason.
Two weeks later Starks scored his first TD in the NFC Championship Game against the archrival Chicago Bears. Now he has Packer nation believing that he just might be the savior of the running game for years to come.
Once an undrafted free agent coming out of Miami, now Titletown's hero.
As the Packers defense tried to hold a one touchdown lead in the final minute of the NFC Championship, Sam Shields snagged the game preserving pick that would send the Packers to their fifth Super Bowl appearance.
It was his second of the game, in which he also recorded a sack and a forced fumble. Not only did he become the first rookie to do so in a playoff game, but he also cemented his status in Green Bay's already elite secondary.
During the regular season, Shields recorded two picks and 29 tackles playing as the nickel back behind the veteran Charles Woodson and the emerging Tramon Williams.