Packers handle rash of injuries again – SO FAR
From Rob Demovsky, ESPN.com
GREEN BAY, Wis. — With the Green Bay Packers off to a 6-0 start, there already have been comparisons to the 2011 team — the one that started 13-0 and finished 15-1.
But this season more closely resembles 2010 in one significant regard: The Packers have been hit by a rash of injuries.
The 2010 team won the Super Bowl despite finishing with 15 players on injured reserve.
More than one-third of the way through this season, the Packers have six players on injured reserve, including one — tight end Andrew Quarless — on the IR-designated to return list (something that did not exist in 2010).
To put the issues of 2015 into perspective, we looked at the injury situations for all 32 teams and sure enough, the Packers have been hit the hardest (Dallas lost All-Pro WR Dez Bryant in week one, and QB Tony Romo in week two, so in my opinion, they have been hit the hardest. Imagine the Packers without Jordy and Rodgers from week two on).
The Packers lead the NFL in games missed — or games that will be missed in the case of players not returning — by injured players.
But it’s not only players who have been lost for the season. The inactive list for last Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers featured only three healthy players. The other four –- receiver Davante Adams (ankle), safety Morgan Burnett (calf), linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder, hand) and defensive tackle B.J. Raji (groin) — all were injury-related. Adams and Burnett have missed multiple games (three for Adams, five for Burnett).
It prompted this assessment from coach Mike McCarthy as his team headed into the bye week:
“I have a 6-0 football team that needs to get healthy. And we have a chance to get a lot better. That’s what I know we have.”
Sometimes, it’s not the sheer volume of injuries that matter. In 2010, only five of the 15 players on injured reserve were starters or key contributors. They were: running back Ryan Grant, safety Burnett, linebacker Nick Barnett, tackle Mark Tauscher and tight end Jermichael Finley.
Only Finley proved difficult to replace.
James Starks emerged as a capable replacement for Grant. Charlie Peprah was serviceable in place of Burnett. Desmond Bishop excelled in Barnett’s place, and Tauscher’s injury opened the door for Bryan Bulaga, who took over as a rookie and remains a starter.
This season, Nelson is the only irreplaceable injured player, but it’s a major one. However, if the Packers can get Adams back, it will help offset the loss of their deep-threat receiver.
The other injury losses are manageable.
Inside linebacker Sam Barrington, who was lost to a foot injury after Week 1, had been a starter for less than a year. It might mean more time at inside linebacker for Clay Matthews, but so far that hasn’t been a bad thing, and the combination of Nate Palmer and Joe Thomas has been adequate.
Safety Sean Richardson, whose neck injury in practice two weeks ago might have ended his career, was a backup on defense and had a far bigger role on special teams.
Defensive end Josh Boyd, who broke his ankle in Week 2, was a backup who might have been expendable anyway after Letroy Guion served his three-game suspension.
Linebacker Jermauria Rasco, an undrafted rookie, would not have made the team had he been healthy.
Quarless, who can return Nov. 26 against the Chicago Bears from his knee injury, was the backup to Richard Rodgers.