Deep Roster Helps Packers Weather Injury Bug

The Green Bay Packers are in the midst of a worrisome case of the injury bug heading into week four of the NFL season.  But be it good fortune, a smartly built roster, or perhaps a little of both the Packers are weathering the storm with little need for outside help.

The Green Bay Packers are in the midst of a worrisome case of the injury bug heading into week four of the NFL season.  But be it good fortune, a smartly built roster or perhaps a little of both the Packers are weathering the storm with little need for outside help.

The Packers are hardly alone in this situation.  Dallas has lost both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for extended periods.  Ben Roethlisberger will miss several games for the Steelers as will Jay Cutler for the Bears and Victor Cruz for the Giants.   However for a Packers team with its focus set squarely on winning the Super Bowl the injuries have become troublesome.

The Official Packers mid-week injury list as reported on NFL.com reads as follows:

Injuries for Week 4

Name

Position

Injury

Practice Status

Game Status

Bryan Bulaga

T

--

Did Not Participate In Practice

--

Demetri Goodson

CB

--

Did Not Participate In Practice

--

Eddie Lacy

RB

--

Full Participation in Practice

--

Morgan Burnett

S

--

Did Not Participate In Practice

--

Aaron Ripkowski

RB

--

Full Participation in Practice

--

Mike Neal

LB

--

Full Participation in Practice

--

Datone Jones

DE

--

Full Participation in Practice

--

Sean Richardson

S

--

Full Participation in Practice

--

Davante Adams

WR

--

Did Not Participate In Practice

--

Andrew Quarless

TE

--

Did Not Participate In Practice

Out

Randall Cobb

WR

--

Full Participation in Practice

--

Jake Ryan

LB

--

Did Not Participate In Practice

--

 

Andrew Quarless was placed on Injured Reserve (designated to return after 8 weeks) and will not play this week.  It was announced earlier that Bryan Bulaga would be out several more weeks and will also not play at San Francisco.  Burnett, Ryan, Adams and Goodson would appear to be long shots as week-four actives after not practicing on Thursday.

That is the bad news.

The good news is that the depth of the opening day roster is allowing the team to carry on with minimal disruption. 

After Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson was lost for the season with a knee injury suffered during a (meaningless) pre-season game at Pittsburgh on August 23, there was disappointment but not panic at the team’s deepest position.  It was a different matter one week later when newly minted number-one receiver Randall Cobb went down with a shoulder injury.

Good fortune again knocked on Packers’ General Manager Ted Thompson’s door when he acquired James Jones on waivers, and at minimum wage, after being released by the New York Giants.   

Now with Cobb’s shoulder improving, Jones picking up where he left off two years ago, and rookie Ty Montgomery steadily improving, it appears that the team may be able to weather the wide-out storm without making any additional outside moves.

The same can be said of the offensive line where key performer right tackle Bryan Bulaga went down with an injured knee at practice on September 17.  With top replacement Don Barclay having returned from his own serious knee injury, suffered the year before, and not playing particularly well, it has been a pleasant surprise that Barclay has held his own so far. 

It was Thompson’s fortuitous choice to keep nine offensive lineman out of training camp – they had been keeping eight the previous few years – which allowed the team to plug-and-play without making any rash personnel moves.  Again crisis diverted. 

Starting ILB Sam Barrington also went down with a season-ending foot injury week-one vs. the Bears.  The story is the same as the team carried nine linebackers on the final 53-man roster heading into opening weekend with the Bears.  With Barrington’s roster spot filled by the return from suspension of DE Datone Jones, it wasn’t until last week that the Packers brought back ILB Joe Thomas by claiming him from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.  Thompson was again able to plug a hole created by injury with one of his own.

Now with Morgan Burnett and Dimitri Goodson injured and unlikely to suit up this coming week, the team can rely on their own depth as they opted to keep eleven defensive backs, one more than they normally carry coming out of training camp.

With Quarless out it will be important to have TE Richard Rodgers remain healthy.  Depth behind him is thin.  The lone backup is rookie Kennard Backman who was thought to be one of the last players to make the roster.  Backman will have to pick up his game. 

But again by good fortune or perhaps good planning, Ted Thompson had taken the unusual step of keeping two fullbacks on the roster.  In the Packers offense the tight end and fullback positions are nearly interchangeable.

And the list goes on:  Lacy injured, plug in Starks.  Adams dinged up, elevate Montgomery and Janis.

Ted Thompson gets his fair share of second-guessing from Packers fans.  Yet he has put together a team that is not only the second-youngest in the league, but is also as talented as it is deep.

For a team that has suffered as many injuries to key players as the Green Bay Packers have, you must give credit to the resilience to a squad that hasn’t missed a beat on their way to a 3 – 0 start.  That is the mark of a good team and coaching staff. 

And a good General Manager.

 

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Comments (15)

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Beep's picture

October 02, 2015 at 07:41 am

Agree with all the points above, but everyone needs to stop it with the "meaningless" preseason narrative that Jordy got injured. He could have gone down on the same non-contact pivot in practice the day before week 1 or yesterday. The preseason did not cause the injury.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 02, 2015 at 09:45 am

Same as Bulaga. He got injured in practice. Injury's can happen anytime.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 02, 2015 at 08:46 am

The decision to keep 9 OL was not fortuitous, it was wise. Personally, I think Taylor Lane forced his way onto the roster with his play by making it clear that he is #1 back-up at OG. Walker also looked too good to make it through waivers. Tretter is the only back up at C, and GB wasn't sure whether Walker could back up at RT yet, so TT kept Barclay.

The decision to keep 11 DBs might still prove to be wise but there is no apparent purpose behind keeping Goodson on the 53. The ST argument is questionable. [I have always stood up for Goodson as I think his raw athleticism is exciting - fast, quick, great hips, decent size, good recovery speed, good turn and run: does everything well except defend passes.] Still, I think Goodson-type players should do their developing on the PS, not the 53. The decision to keep Goodson on the 53 at least in part has to have played a part in cutting Mitchell Henry, a decision that probably has already come back to nip TT, and if Rodgers misses time, will come back to bite his arse. Backman is terrible and can't actually play his position at this point.

I advocated keeping Joe Thomas as a coverage back, not unlike Chillar. TT is fortunate that Thomas was on a PS and not on a 53. The fact that Thomas was able to came back and play 38 NFL snaps in his 1st game strongly suggests that some other team might well have elevated him to their 53 at some point.

The signing of James Jones was good. But with Nelson hurt and Abby concussed for so long, bringing in Jones or someone was necessary. TT chose James Jones, and should get credit for making that decision, even if many might, with some accuracy, suggest that it was a no-brainer.

As a note, I would suggest that in GB FBs and TEs have some overlap, but are hardly interchangeable. Ripkowksi lined up in-line at 6'1" tall is not going to function like the 6'4" tall Quarless, move with Q's fluidity, adjust to the pass as well, and I highly doubt that Rip will be able to block as well as even the hit or miss Q, assuming that he even knows the assignments. Probably the overlap is they both can function as an H-Back.

What TT has done is he has provided a roster and even a practice squad loaded with talent. Players 1 to 51 all belong on an NFL roster. The last two guys, Backman and Goodson, have considerable raw talent.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 02, 2015 at 09:26 am

Good post TGR. One point you said "TT is fortunate that Thomas was on a PS and not on a 53."

I don't think it was fortunate to be honest. A team isn't going to sign another teams roster cuts directly onto their 53 roster too often (they don't know plays or anything and are mostly useless for weeks). I would say Thompson knew that Thomas was going to a PS and would be able to sign him to his roster. In fact I bet Thompson had that exact discussion w/ Thomas when he released him and told him he might bring him back if needed.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 02, 2015 at 10:06 am

Yes and no, Dan. It would not surprise me at all if you are correct and TT in fact told Thomas that he would bring him back if needed, from which most would infer due to injury. I wrote that some team would elevate Thomas to their 53 at some point, meaning later in the season. So my view is that TT was fortunate that a roster spot opened up early in the season rather than later when a team might have elevated Thomas to its 53. TT did sign Thomas at his first real opportunity. I have seen some commenters wonder why TT didn't look at other TEs on practice squads (I forget the names but I believe Koyack, the ND TE, has been mentioned). I suspect the reason in part is that those TEs wouldn't be ready for weeks and would only be useful for a few games until Q is eligible to return, or that TT just doesn't like them.

Also interesting is that TT obtained a roster spot due to injury at TE, a thin spot, and used it to simply add Thomas, who is not a TE but is an ILB who he could have kept in the first place. I suppose that Barrington's injury and Ryan's hamstring issues could be construed to mean that that Thomas was needed due to injury, and TT just had a delayed reaction.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 02, 2015 at 02:24 pm

Barringtons injury certainly had alot to do w Thomas getting signed. That doesn't happen and they might not sign Thomas.

If you notced I said weeks, so Thomas was probably at least a month from getting on the roster. Either way I dont think it was "fortunate" . In fact, it could have been planned and Thompson knew he would bring back Thomas at the first opportunity.

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

October 02, 2015 at 10:35 am

I think they added enough talent at CB that Goodson could be on IR do we wait half the year, might even cut him never know at this point.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 02, 2015 at 11:28 am

I have wondered if Goodson's injury is bad enough where they would possibly put him on IR.

If they need a roster spot Goodson could be the guy they put on IR. They have plenty of depth at CB. With the shortage of pass catchers I could see them possibly doing this to bring up either Abbrederis or Perillo.

I don't see them making that move until after this weekends game to see if there are anymore injuries. It could be a move they make though.

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Duke Divine's picture

October 02, 2015 at 09:30 am

Tinerkin Ted, scheming again!

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croatpackfan's picture

October 02, 2015 at 09:37 am

I think that it will be interesting who will Packers cut when Andrew come back from the IR designated to return spot...

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Since'61's picture

October 02, 2015 at 10:39 am

Croat - it will be interesting. A lot can change during the 8 weeks that Q will be out. The needs of the team will likely be very different by the time that Q returns. Thanks, Since '61

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Since'61's picture

October 02, 2015 at 10:23 am

Jeff - I agree that to date the Packers have weathered the storm regarding their number of injuries. They have made it to 3-0. Barclay has held his own in replacement of Bulaga against some of the league's best pass rushers. James Jones has mitigated the loss of Jordy Nelson to a significant degree. Ty Montgomery has been effective in replacing Davante Adams. A combinations of DBs have mitigated the loss of Burnett at safety. My concern during this injury plague is the impact on special teams. So far the Packers STs have improved over 2014. However the injuries to players like Jake Ryan, Goodson, and Quarless could wreak havoc on our STs and force some starters to take on ST roles which may diminish their efforts in their primary roles and/or expose them to greater risk of injury. Regrettably, we know all too well how quickly poor ST play can wreck a game or an entire season for us. I am glad to see that Mike Neal, Datone Jones and Sean Richardson have all had full participation in practice this week. Apparently it is not looking good for the return of either Burnett or Davante Adams. But neither has been ruled out yet. I think that we still have enough depth to cover the current situation but any further injuries could push us into crisis mode at some positions. One game at a time. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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toolkien's picture

October 02, 2015 at 11:34 am

Tvrd Thompson does it all wrong. I want to see a team with 2-3 overpaid divas, two of whom will be hurt at any given time, and then watch a bunch of scrub backups. THIS is the formula for a long string of Lombardi trophies.

And I agree with PFF, Errin' Fraudgers is average at best.

Signed,

Message board doofus circa fall of 2008.

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AndrewInAtlanta's picture

October 02, 2015 at 02:36 pm

"For a team that has suffered as many injuries to key players as the Green Bay Packers have, you must give credit to the resilience to a squad that hasn’t missed a beat on their way to a 3 – 0 start. That is the mark of a good team and coaching staff.

And a good General Manager."

and a QB named Aaron Rodgers

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William Reagan Jr.'s picture

October 03, 2015 at 04:05 am

The PACKERS definitely know how to rally and stay playing as one,despite the injury list that needs to stop growing. PACKERS all the way to 17 and 0

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