3 Ways Packers Can Overcome Growing Injury List
Two things continue to grow for the Green Bay Packers: The number in the win column and the injury report.
The former is a strong indicator of how good this team is capable of being. The latter is eventually going to become a concern.
The list of key injuries has been long for a while. Head coach Matt LaFleur offered some updates early in the week and few of them were good news.
David Bakhtiari, who has been out all season, is set to return from the PUP list, but it will still be a few weeks before he is in condition to join the active roster. That's about as good as the news gets, though.
Preston Smith may miss the first game of his career. The impact of that is compounded by the fact that Za'Darius Smith is still on the IR and isn't expected to be back until Week 14. Jaire Alexander is, of course, out for the year. That makes Kevin King's injury worse, although he is considered to be "day-to-day."
On the offensive side, rookie center Josh Myers is expected to be out for "multiple games," per the update.
In short, the Packers are dealing with a litany of injuries and still have a chance to compete. That's going to require figuring out a way to continue winning despite the injuries and two games coming up in a five-day period.
Here are three ways they can overcome that adversity and keep winning.
Trade for Dante Fowler
There's a reason edge defenders are not often among defensive players who are coming in for 100 percent of the snaps every week. It helps when a team can rotate their pass-rushers in and out of the game to stay fresh.
The Packers have not completely taken that approach with Preston Smith. He has hovered around 80 percent of the snaps this season, and he hit that mark in at least two games this season.
Za'Darius Smith is already out for the foreseeable future, and now Preston is dealing with an injury that could impact the team's performance for weeks to come.
Rashan Gary has stepped up in a big way to make up for the loss of Za'Darius. However, there needs to be another rusher to step in for Gary and become the third option or the direct backup if Preston can't play this weekend against Washington.
Dante Fowler could be the answer. He was dreadful in Atlanta last season with just three sacks, and he only has two so far this season. However, when Fowler was on a good Rams team, he had his best season with 11.5 sacks.
Putting him on a contender like Green Bay could spark a fire in him, and we could see that same production. The Falcons should be open to trading him. The final year of his contract can be voided, and they are sitting at 2-3.
Get in on the Cornerback Trade Market
If we've learned anything during the season it's that cornerbacks can be had in the trade market. We are just six weeks into the season and C.J. Henderson and Stephon Gilmore have already been dealt.
Jaire Alexander's injury hurts. You don't just replace a player like him in a position as important as his. But things are getting scary for the defense on the perimeter quickly. Eric Stokes has been an every-down player as a rookie over the last four weeks. Outside of that, the team signed Rasul Douglas off the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad, and he played 85 percent of the snaps in Week 6.
Douglas played well, but that doesn't tell us much as the Chicago Bears passing game has been among the worst in the league.
Eventually, the Packers might have to look outside of the organization for more help at corner. They likely don't want to take on the contract of someone like Xavien Howard or Byron Jones in Miami.
However, someone like Joe Haden in Pittsburgh could make sense. The Steelers corner is in the final year of his contract, and the Steelers may not be in contention by the time the NFL trade deadline comes to pass.
Even if a trade for Harden isn't viable, there are other veterans who can provide a solid baseline of play at the position who play for teams who will likely be selling over the next few weeks.
Let Rodgers Be Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers is the third-highest paid player in the league for a reason. When you're a superstar quarterback getting paid that kind of money, the expectation is simple: lead the team to contention.
As far as the injuries on defense go, the answer might not be on the roster. However, the offense revolves around No. 12, and as long as he is healthy and in top form, it's going to be on him to help get the offense through their injuries.
Regardless of any offseason drama, Rodgers is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He is fifth in the league in completion percentage over expected, per Next Gen Stats.
The offensive line is certainly banged up and protection isn't always the best. However, Rodgers has a lightning-quick release and the ability to make all the throws on the field.
Not only that, Rodgers is a cerebral quarterback who understands the offense. This is why you pay your quarterback so much money. Even without Bakhtiari, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Myers, Rodgers is going to make the Packers a threat to score every time they have the ball.
Allowing the offense to run through Rodgers and Davante Adams is going to allow the team to move beyond so many injuries and continue to compete at the highest level.
All statistics and snap counts via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.