6 Green Bay Packers Injured in 2010 Who Will Play Key Roles in 2011
Well known by most are the injury problems the Packers faced last season.
Going into Super Bowl XLV, the Packers had 16 players on injured reserve. During the Super Bowl, a couple more players got hurt as well.
But even without those players, Green Bay is still a scary team. They boast one of the deepest squads in the entire NFL.
With the newfound talent on the team, not all 16 players will have stellar impacts.
But here are six of them that will play key roles throughout the season.
Morgan Burnett, S
When Morgan Burnett went down in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions, it seemed as if the Packers were spread thin at safety.
But in came Charlie Peprah.
Peprah played much better than expected. He recorded 63 tackles and 2 INTs during the regular season as well as 25 tackles in the playoffs.
However, even though they re-signed Peprah, I believe Burnett will be the starter.
Burnett showed promise and toughness when he lasted 11 extra plays with a torn ligament in his knee.
Expect Burnett to show why Ted Thompson and Co. moved up in the 2010 NFL Draft to grab him.
Jermichael Finley, TE
Many are projecting Finley to have the breakout season he was primed for last season before his injury.
Finley is a member of a new breed of tight ends that are too big for cornerbacks but too fast for linebackers.
The clear-cut starter at tight end, Finley will benefit from the Packers' plethora of talent in the passing game.
If everything goes as planned, Finley will have earned himself a Pro Bowl spot.
Finley will have a big year this year with over 1,000 yards receiving and a minimum of five touchdowns.
Mike Neal, DE
Another rookie who ended up with a season-ending injury was Mike Neal, the team's second-round draft pick.
Neal impressed coaches early with his work ethic—he was often one of the first players at the team facilities every day—as well as his combination of strength and speed.
If the sophomore out of Purdue can improve upon his technique, he could become something special very soon.
And if the Packers don't decide to pick up any defensive lineman in free agency, then expect him to become a starter very soon.
Ryan Grant, RB
Ryan Grant will have stiff competition for the job of starting running back when the 2011 season comes around.
James Starks, the Packers' sixth-round draft pick in 2010, showed that he could shoulder a work load if needed.
And though Alex Green isn't an immediate starter, the former Hawaii stud is an excellent third down option.
And just for Grant's sake, let's not say that Brandon Jackson is coming back. Alex Green will take his job.
But even with all of this, Grant should still play a key role in the Packers' offense.
He won't get close to his previous 1,200-yard seasons but somewhere around the 700/800-yard range isn't unreasonable.
Charles Woodson, CB
I apologize for using the most overused picture of Charles Woodson there is on B/R, but it had to be done.
Woodson was only injured for part of one game (the Super Bowl), but he suffered an injury serious enough to cause some concern.
Aaron Rodgers may be the biggest star on the team, but the title of team leader goes to the only primarily defensive player in NCAA history to win a Heisman.
Woodson is the leader of the Packers' defense on the field and the leader of the team in the locker room.
He continually aids in the growth of Green Bay's budding stars, and his presence will be key.
Justin Harrell, DE
There had to be a shocker on this list somewhere.
Cheeseheads everywhere wonder why the Packers haven't cut Harrell yet. He's a huge draft bust, so far.
It's no surprise that Harrell was coming off another injury this season, as he has more injuries in his career than sacks.
But in his last season, to prove his worth to the organization, Harrell will explode (in terms of his previous production).
The former first-round draft pick will be as determined as ever and put together the flashes of brilliance he has shown when healthy.