Green Bay Packer Injuries; the Beginning of the Fall?
Despite last week's loss, the 2011 season for Green Bay has played out in triumphant fashion.
We thought that it would only a matter of time before their luck ran out, and it did. Will Green Bay be able to bounce back from their embarrassing performance last week and prove themselves to be this year's champions, or has the slow buildup of player injuries finally added one which broke the camel's back?
We need only think back to the 2007 season with the Patriots to know that nothing is written in stone and that, in football, anything can happen.
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After a game-ending knee injury in third quarter of the Oakland Raiders game, Greg Jennings is out for a still yet-to-be-determined amount of time.
In Week 15's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, this reality proved all the more devastating.
Coach McCarthy reported the injury as a knee sprain during his post-game conference. An MRI on Dec. 12 revealed more about the injury, showing a sprained medial collateral ligament. His sideline projection was put at two to three weeks but until we see him back in practice, nothing can be said for sure.
The loss here is significant, with Jennings already contributing nearly one thousand yards this season and nine touchdowns. Without him backing up QB Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs, the Pack are at a big disadvantage.
Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk
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After a season contribution of 97 tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble, Desmond Bishop was recently seen pacing the sidelines with teammate, A.J. Hawk.
By halftime during Thursday's Thanksgiving Day game, Green Bay had lost both of their starting inside linebackers with calf injuries.
By the following week, Week 13, Green Bay faced off against the New York Giants again without their starting LBs. Looking back, we can see that Green Bay struggled against the Giants offense, allowing too many points for comfort.
While Bishop was out undoubtedly for Week 14 against the Oakland Raiders, Hawk returned to practice the Friday before the Raiders game. Despite this, he did not play as hoped.
As of now, Bishop is sitting on a questionable return, although he is allowed limited practice now after Week 15's loss to Kansas City. With that and Hawk being back so fresh from an injury, we wonder how much longer the already mediocre defense can hold up.
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After leading the NFL with 315 rushing yards in last year's postseason as a rookie, RB James Starks has been one to watch as he seasons. It's no wonder Coach McCarthy has played him so much this year compared to last.
Unfortunately for Starks and his potential future career, he's been removed from two consecutive games for ankle and knee injuries, then sat for two more.
Despite being cleared to play for both the Week 12 and 13 games, re-aggravation forced the coaching staff to utilize other players. The result? A two-game hiatus.
As for this week, Starks is fully participating in practice. The dilemma at hand is to risk sacrificing his contribution to the running game now, or take a dice roll and hope he can stay healthy despite the previous four weeks of struggle.
Hopefully they aren't overly eager to get him back on the field.
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Twelve-year veteran Chad Clifton is back at practice for the first time since Oct. 6 after a severe hamstring injury.
At Wednesday's press conference, Coach McCarthy informed the media Clifton was only involved in limited practice and that he was not yet prepared to announce him as game-ready.
Despite this, it seems apparent that Green Bay management is toying with the idea of his return. Whether or not this is fueled by last week's loss is debatable, but who can deny the Packers would want as many athletes back at their disposal while facing their NFC rival on Christmas Day.
Clifton's contribution for this upcoming faceoff is yet to be determined by practice performance. Regardless, we can be confident that participation would be limited at best.
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Defensive end Ryan Pickett won't be able to contribute anymore than the 32 tackles he's already made so far this year, for now.
He's still suffering from the effects of a concussion he received during Week 14.
Considering his involvement in practice has been nonexistent, don't be too confident that McCarthy or Capers will be looking for him to back up any part of the struggling defense soon.
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Green Bay was able to take it all the way last year despite a plague of injuries. Despite this, any subtraction from the team, no matter how small, reduces the valuable pool of talented athletes.
With 19 separate teammates contributing touchdowns, we see that a diverse team is one of the assets that Green Bay has at their advantage. Take even one away, like Jennings, and we see how easy things can be thrown off.
McCarthy has flourished as a coach because it's a natural talent of his. The way he can pull his team together and orchestrate a win despite adversity is something he strives for, not something he shirks away from.
Although we have no clue who will walk away with the Lombardi Trophy come February, we do know that the Packers have what it takes to get there, and hopefully without even more injuries.