Lost amid the news that quarterback Aaron Rodgers won't be playing this evening against the New England Patriots when the Packers invade Foxboro, Mass. was encouraging news for Cullen Jekins and Frank Zombo.
While neither the defensive lineman or the outside linebacker are likely to play tonight, there's hope that they'll still be able to contribute to the Packers for the stretch run and a playoff push the final two games of the regular season.
When the Packers added backup quarterback Graham Harrell to the 53-man roster, the placed safety Anthony Smith on injured reserve.
It had previously been speculated that Jenkins and Zombo had severe enough injuries that they might be placed on season-ending injured reserve. With Smith going on IR, there's a glimmer of hope that Jenkins and Zombo still may be able to help the Packers yet.
Earlier this week, head coach Mike McCarthy left the door open that Jenkins could still contribute this season.
When asked whether he's saving a roster spot of Jenkins, McCarthy replied, "Obviously if we felt that way already, we would have made that move. You are dealing with strains and calf muscles, no different than these knee sprains, there is some projection and it is usually never the same for any two people."
As for Zombo, he appears to be making more progress than the coaching staff could have predicted.
On Wednesday of this week, McCarthy said he would rule Zombo "out" for today's game. Officially, he's listed as "doubtful." While doubtful means Zombo is still a ways from getting back on the field, he appears to be exceeding expectations.
"He’s overcome the big ankle injury there in training camp, but this is pretty significant," said McCarthy on Wednesday. "But he’s giving it a shot, so maybe he’ll surprise me."
The outside linebacker position might be the thinnest on the team. The stud of the group, Clay Matthews, has been dealing with a shin injury for weeks and is extremely limited in every practice with no relief in sight until the season is over.
Erik Walden, a former street free agent, is the starter opposite Matthews. And top backup was Diyral Briggs before he suffered an ankle injury and was added to the injury report on Friday. Former practice squad player Robert Francois could be today's top backup at the position.
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