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Injuries Concerning for Packers Outside Linebacker Group

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Injuries Concerning for Packers Outside Linebacker Group

When the outside linebacker group for the Green Bay Packers took to the field for practice on Saturday only 4 of the 9 players were healthy enough to participate.  It is becoming a moderate concern for the team as they prepare to meet the New England Patriots on Thursday night in the first of their four pre-season games.

In what was the final install of schemes for the upcoming season, fan favorite ‘Family Night’ was held at Lambeau Field this past Saturday night.  A paid crowd of more than 67,000, many of whom were children who might otherwise not have the opportunity to attend a Packers game, witnessed the practice which also featured player jersey giveaways and fireworks to cap off the event.

The Packers are very cautious with even the most minor of injuries at this time of year but to have so many players sitting out at one position is worrisome.  Of particular concern is that the five who sat out, along with Julius Peppers, are the heart of the OLB group.  For a defense that the coaching staff has pledged will have a faster start to the 2015 season than in previous years, the concern at 1265 Lombardi Avenue has to be growing.

Clay Matthews (knee), Nick Perry (groin), Adrian Hubbard (groin) Mike Neal (abdomen) and Jayrone Elliott (shoulder) all sat out of the Family Night practice. There is hope that Matthews will return for the preseason opener against the Pats but given the time he has already missed, it would not be surprising if he waited until after the contest to return. Mike Neal has yet to suit up at all during training camp while Perry is a relatively new injury.   

Undrafted rookies James Vaughters and Jermauria Rasco logged considerable playing time.  Veteran Julius Peppers is on a training camp ‘pitch count’ as is Andy Mulumba who is working his way back from a torn ACL.

Rasco is a converted 4-3 DE from LSU and certainly can use the work in his switch to OLB.  

When asked of the difficulty of the switch Rasco replied, "If you asked me this when we first started, I wasn't comfortable at all. I'm still learning a lot of things and slowly getting comfortable and getting in a groove. It's slowing down, especially with the dropping and stuff. You just line up and play football after that."

James Vaughters is a 6’ 2”, 258 lb. linebacker from Stanford who can also use the work.  Raw in many aspects of his game, the extra reps were welcome by the physical Vaughters who is facing an uphill battle to make the team.  Actually he showed pretty good quickness on Saturday night and would have recorded a sack on QB Aaron Rodgers had this been a real game when he got by right tack Bryan Bulaga on a slick inside move.    

Andy Mulumba who missed virtually all of last season has had a strong camp and looks to be nearly fully recovered from his torn ACL.   The work was good for Mulumba as well and he made the most of his opportunity on Saturday night.

Malumba was very upbeat after the practice when he said, "It feels good. We got so many injuries. Even me, I'm not 100 percent, but for me it's a question of getting my knee to be used to that amount of reps. Those guys will be fine. It's just a little bit of soreness here and there. They'll come back next week and I think we'll get to compete again. For me, I just take advantage of this opportunity to get to rush with Julius on the other side."

If Malumba is right, Packers fans can rest peacefully at night.  But lingering injuries to key players like Matthews and Neal are always a concern given their injury history.

The Packers don’t have a corner on the market when it comes to injuries however.  The Packers opponent on Thursday night, the New England Patriots, reportedly had 23 players miss practice on Saturday due to some sort of injury. 

It is that time of year after all.  The time for coaches and trainers to be conservative when it comes to injured players. 

It is nowhere near time for major alarm but that could change if the OLB group loses much more time due to the injury bug.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Spud Rapids's picture

Mulumba was having a great camp last year when his ACL went... hope he is the surprise at OLB this year.

NewNikeShoes's picture

From what I'm reading, he's wrecking the competition.
I'm rooting for him and Joe Thomas, 2 guys who did gr8 but had their camp shortened.

Clay Zombo's picture

Clay tested his knee out today and Neal made his practice debut so thats some good news anyway. Hope Clay comes out ok, hes the only one im worried about.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I think I'd rather have CM3 miss the 1st game against the Patriots. Maybe Mike Neal as well.

EdsLaces's picture

Just rest Clay and Peppers. Get the other guys some reps and see who has the talent. Clay knows the mlb position enough and Peppers is old. Get those guys the rest they need and find a diamond or two in the rough in the process.

BoxStuffer's picture

Agreed.

Would like to see someone else really step up and earn their spot.

Icebowler's picture

No "major" injuries so far; cross your fingers.

Does anyone know if the Packers are still employing those Australian sports injury prevention experts that they hired early last year?

Spud Rapids's picture

Is that where they were from? I know they eating weird snacks again during practice like they did last year

The TKstinator's picture

Sign me up for the weird snacks too.

Razor's picture

Coaches must have super patience and some guys must be injury prone - Neal & Perry. Let's see, not that good and can't stay on the field - they must fit the team's "fabric".

Yes being sarcastic, but it is frustrating for me as a fan to continue to hear these two names.

EdsLaces's picture

Injury prone yes ....but they are also pretty good when healthy.

Dan Stodola's picture

I'll chose not to be concerned. Matthews Peppers, Perry, Neal don't need a lot of reps to get ready for the season. The only reason this might be a concern is having enough bodies to take reps against NE. But the 4 primary OLB don't need a lot. Guys like Elliot and Hubbard could use them however.

Lets be real tho. Its not likely the 4 OLB that play most OLB snaps weren't likely to get more than a handful of snaps anyway.

Seems like a lot of worry for little reason.

ben's picture

James Vaughters? Jermauria Rasco?

oh O homers

if they can't keep Matthews inside it's f'n over. as in no chance.

This could get so ugly on defense this year. And not just maybe, probably.

If Clay isn't in the middle or Raji plays at all like he has the last 3 years, Peterson and Lynch will average 175 yards / game against the packers. (again) And i know you homers won't be able to get your mind around it, like almost 2 years ago when I was calling for Matthews to be moved inside, but Perry could be used inside as well. I think he has the versatility and ability to play inside at ILB or DE. He may be the best run defender the packers have, the strongest on the team at the point and could hold up in the middle. The guy did 35 reps at the combine, maybe the strongest guy on the team. Oh yea, he also might be the fastest LB on the team. Next to Clay in the middle he wouldn't have to drop or cover much, but he's capable. Let's face it homers, he just doesn't have the pass-rush moves you need at 3-4 OLB. To make it out of the NFC the packers are going to have to thru the Seahawks and Vikings, both with crushing power running games. The Packers need to be better, stronger, up the middle than they have been the past 5 years.

I'm a burnett, shields, matthews, boyd, daniels, peppers, richardson, & hyde fan,
but corner is suspect, Dix sucks, ILB is a problem, NT could be.

There is room on the Vikings bandwagon. I'm bumping my prediction up from a top 6 defense this year and a top 3 next to a top 3 this year and somewhere in the top 1 next season.

Oh yea, they also have the greatest running back of the last 20 years who happens to be on a freaking mission. Not to mention a good QB with Brady like pocket presence. Yes, bridgewater's whole game most closely resembles Brady's.

NewNikeShoes's picture

oh hey, you're back.
we didn't miss you.
what're you doing here anyway, aren't you a vibitch fan?

Nick Perry's picture

Every year Nike, every year it's the same ol Ben. By about the middle of the season he starts coming around less and less as his Vikings begin their annual fall to the bottom of the NFC North.

ben's picture

Nick, you make thinks up. I was a Packer fan for 38 years & now have been a Viking fan for only a few months.

Why?...... the squandering of the best and most influential player to ever play the game, Aaron Rodgers. to get ahead of the curve of the immediate dominance by the Minnesota Vikings. and mainly because of homers like you who lack a certain objectivity and intellectual integrity.

"Every year, Every year....................."

shut up Nick

croatpackfan's picture

I would really like to know the relations between which players you like and their capabilities on the field. I do not see any relation!

If you do not like some players that does not means they are sucks. It means you sucks...

ray nichkee's picture

Ballsack ben at it again.

Dan Stodola's picture

That's funny. I seem to remember that the Packers Defense got remarkably better when they began moving Matthews around and using all his talents. Surely you know more than the Packers coaches tho.

NewNikeShoes's picture

of course ben knows more than the coaches.
ben knows everything.
we should hail him as our lord and savior, and maybe someday he'll pass his immense amounts of knowledge down to us lower peasants.
I for one, accept our new stupid overlord the TD God.

ben's picture

The Packers defense got better when they started playing Matthews at ILB period

4thand1's picture

U R the second biggest asshat on here.

PaulRosik's picture

Vaughters? Rasco? yeah they can play on Thursday and get cut soon after. If during the season they have this many people at one position injured and have to play Peppers and Mulumba it is a problem. But then the 2011 Packers had a historically bad defense and they only went 15 - 1. (Then the OC's son was found dead the week of the playoff game and the team looked lost and unprepared.) So in a way a defense that's susceptible to giving up yards and points hopefully means the stacked offense that returns its top 15 players from last season is more aggressive in its play calling

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