Packers Ability to Overcome Injuries Has Been Impressive

The Green Bay Packers are off to a strong start to the 2020 season, going 4-0 through the first four games and winning all of them in convincing fashion.

The Packers have accomplished this despite a rash of injuries that would decimate most NFL teams, but it is a tribute to the Green Bay coaching staff that the team hasn’t missed a beat.

Although the season is just four games old, but the Packers list of injuries is formidable. Already, the Packers lost their leading tackler and only experienced inside linebacker in Christian Kirksey. Kirksey missed one full game and parts of another, but still leads the team in tackles with 27. Ty Summers stepped in and took over Kirksey’s play calling duties and has done an adequate job as his replacement. This was Summers’ first action on defense in his NFL career.

The Packers best defensive lineman, Kenny Clark, has played in only one game before he was felled by a groin injury. Clark is a Pro Bowl player at a position where the Packers don’t have any other players near that caliber. Despite the absence of the Packers best lineman, the defense is still ranked ninth in the league against the run and 12th in the league overall at yards allowed per game.

Players have stepped up their games in Clark’s absence. Tyler Lancaster has been quite effective against the run and has shown a lot of hustle on the field to make stops. Meanwhile, Kingsley Keke has provided some more pass rush as he has made a second-year jump.

The receiver position has also been hit hard by injuries. Against the Falcons, the Packers had three of their top four wideouts unavailable for the game. WR1 Davante Adams had an outstanding season opener against Minnesota and then got hurt against Detroit in Week 2.

Allen Lazard is WR2 and he suffered a core muscle injury during his career-best performance in Week 3 against New Orleans. He is now on IR and won’t be able to return for at least another three weeks.

Equanimeous St. Brown has yet to play this season and is now on injured reserve. The Packers hope to activate him shortly after the bye week.

Despite the absence of three of the team’s top four receivers, the offense hasn’t missed a beat. Matt LaFleur devised game plans to feature the tight ends and running backs in the passing game and Aaron Rodgers executed it to near perfection. The Packers have scored at least 30 points in every game this season so far and currently have the second most yards gained per game in the league.

All of this has also been accomplished with a banged up offensive line. Starting right guard Lane Taylor was injured in Week 2 and lost for the season. Billy Turner missed the first two games of the season before taking over at right tackle. Center Corey Linsley missed part of one game with a sprained finger and Rick Wagner has played hurt but filled in admirably when called upon including playing “tight end” against Atlanta in place of the injured Marcedes Lewis.

Lucas Patrick has stepped into the starting lineup and has played both guard positions and center when called upon. Elgton Jenkins started the season opener at right tackle before returning to his left guard spot. Rookie Jon Runyan had to fill in twice this season because of injuries and performed well both times despite not having any preseason game to prepare.

LaFleur, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and offensive line coach Adam Stenavich have done a great job of preparing the players to make adjustments and be ready to fill in whenever and wherever they are needed.

The secondary has also dealt with a slew of injuries. Raven Greene finally played a full game against Atlanta but missed the season opener and saw only limited action in the next two games. Greene is a key component of Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme when he plays the hybrid ILB/S position.

Against the Falcons, the Green Bay secondary suffered several injuries. Starting CB Kevin King left the game early with a quad injury. Nickel DB Chandon Sullivan also left the game early after suffering a possible concussion and is in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Safety Will Redmond was also shaken up against Atlanta. Still, despite all these injuries, the defense limited the Falcons to just 16 points and 249 passing yards despite the fact that they trailed nearly all game.

This series of injuries recalls the 2010 season when the Packers won a Super Bowl despite losing so many key players to injury. Ryan Grant, Morgan Burnett, Nick Barnett, Jermichael Finley and Brady Popinga were among the many key players who missed significant time due to injuries that season. The Packers managed to qualify for the playoffs as a wild card, won three road playoff games and then defeated the Steelers in the Super Bowl.

A decade later, the Packers are again hoping to replicate their success of a decade ago and get Rodgers a second Super Bowl ring. All NFL teams face injuries over the course of the season. The Packers have already faced more than their share. So far, they have overcome them and continued to play at a high level. They must continue to do that if they hope to accomplish their mission.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (50)

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BBlake's picture

October 10, 2020 at 12:36 pm

I think the Packers being able to keep winning is something of a testament to the abilities of the coaching staff to keep getting players to perform adequately when called upon due to injuries. It probably helps that in some cases it's the same players getting injured year after year.

That said, I don't think I'd agree with the statement that Equanimeous St. Brown is one of the Packers top four WR's. He's pretty much been on IR the entire time he's been with team.

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NickPerry's picture

October 10, 2020 at 01:54 pm

I have to agree even though EQ has been the WR I CAN'T WAIT to watch in this offense. He was a 6th round pick who should have been drafted earlier IMO. Obviously with the injuries so far he's backing up the 6th round selection just fine, BUT if the kid ever gets and STAYS on the field I think he could really be good.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:22 pm

I think he can make an impact when he returns, especially if Lazard misses significant time. Of course, EQ has to prove it, but the potential is there. Thanks for the comment, NickPerry.

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Coldworld's picture

October 10, 2020 at 02:09 pm

EQ is on paper, but he has been underwhelming in practice. He passes the eye test but does he have the desire? He reminds me of athletes who never produce on the field, a concern that caused him to drop in the draft. One would have expected him to at least flash in practice.

Not everything is obvious to us armchair types. Perhaps the coaches are high on him, but I don’t see evidence or even hear much buzz. I guess we will see where he fits in the next month, but Im not going to count on him till he shows up and does things in games.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:23 pm

It's always wait and see and EQ has to show he can get it done consistently in games. He was not a standout in training camp this year although he did get a few positive mentions. I hope he can step up and shine after the bye. Thanks for the comment, Coldworld.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:18 pm

I agree, the coaching staff has done a great job of making sure the "next man up" is ready and when you add the lack of preseason games and offseason activities and it's even more impressive.

As for EQ, I put him in the top four receivers because that's where he was on the depth chart when the season started.

Thanks for the comment, BBlake.

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WisconsinStrong's picture

October 10, 2020 at 01:45 pm

Gil is one of my favorite CHTV writers for his balanced outlook and ability to find the positives in our team. I always come away from his stories with a greater appreciation for what this organization stands for and is accomplishing--in this case, ensuring solid depth and maintaining a "next man up" mentality. In an era of fantasy football and the draft industrial complex, too many fans look for the big-name quick fixes and forget that key players like Lazard and Tonyan have emerged precisely because they were our next men up. Excited to see who else will emerge this season. Go Pack Go!

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:21 pm

Thanks for the kind words, WisconsinStrong, I really appreciate it. I wonder who the next relative unknown will be who steps up and assumes a big role. Thanks for commenting, always good to hear from you.

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Qoojo's picture

October 10, 2020 at 02:06 pm

In my expert opinion, the packers will continue overcoming injuries, and come out of this weekend still undefeated.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:25 pm

LOL. Yeah, that's a guarantee. Thanks for the comment, Qoojo.

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splitpea1's picture

October 10, 2020 at 03:21 pm

Switching games for a moment, did anybody watch the Bears-Bucs and see the hit and forced fumble by Fuller? Wow! Totally clean and coming from a CB, no less. I'd love to see our secondary start bringing the wood like that once they've learned to tackle a little better.

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Archie's picture

October 11, 2020 at 06:09 am

Fuller was supposed to be a Packer.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 02:00 pm

Yeah, we can't sign them all. Thanks for the comment, Archie.

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Coldworld's picture

October 11, 2020 at 07:23 am

Kings tackle on Monday to hold the edge, stoning the ball carrier was up there.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 02:01 pm

That was a good hit. Those hits are fewer and farther between now with the rules changes but it's always good to see a hard tackle like that as long as it's clean and nobody gets hurt.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:26 pm

It was a strong hit. Savage can make hits like that and we've seen a few last season especially. Brings back memories of Chuck Cecil. Thanks for the comment, splitpea1.

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gabuma's picture

October 10, 2020 at 04:44 pm

Lol! Although this post seems to be funny but it really has deep meanings inside it. I mean you should look positively and you will proud yourself instead of complex. I https://weldinghelmetworld.com/best-cheap-welding-helmets/ have heard this sort of double meaning posts on the web of the essay writing services as well.

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nostradanus's picture

October 10, 2020 at 06:20 pm

Very true Gil, I thought the Packers were in for a “trap” game against Atlanta with all the guys injured and sitting out. In no time did it look like Atlanta was truly in the game. A credit to the coaching staff for getting these guys ready to play and play well.
This bye comes at a good time.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:27 pm

I thought the bye was "too early" when the schedule came out but we need it now. I agree re: the trap aspect of the Falcons game. But the Pack really took care of business. I really like the way the coaching staff is getting the most out of this team so far this year. Thanks as always for commenting.

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mbpacker's picture

October 10, 2020 at 06:37 pm

Next man up are balling out! Barnes has looked good too! Go Pack Go!

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WisconsinStrong's picture

October 10, 2020 at 09:31 pm

Thanks for mentioning Barnes--truly excited to watch his development and to see him flying around the field making plays! Go Pack Go!

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 02:08 pm

I have really enjoyed watching Barnes. He's a smart football player and even with his athletic limitations, he's in the right place at the right time more often than not. Give him some more experience and he can probably take it up another notch. Thanks for commenting, WisconsinStrong.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:31 pm

Barnes has been a very pleasant surprise. I saw potential in him when they signed him (check my old articles) but didn't expect this much this quickly with the lack of preseason games and offseason activities.

Next man up is working well so far.

Thanks for the comment, mbpacker.

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PhantomII's picture

October 10, 2020 at 08:41 pm

The Packers depth at OL and having a lot of latitude on a variety of weapons on Offense wether it be WR, RB, TE to carry some weight in games has been impressive. The best thing about using all the practice squad players and subs is NFL snaps that enhance our overall development of personnel to improve upon. Although not ideal, it is the perfect crucible to be tested with. Young guys going at other teams best they can field on every play. WE might not look quite as good on every series because of it but we are still getting better overall and our injured guys are given a chance to heal and our subs a chance to perform. It also makes players who are nicked up believe the team doesn't have to have them out there to win, which could cause further injury and loss for the season all together.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:34 pm

The depth at OL and the versatility of the o-linemen has helped a lot. Jenkins can play anywhere in a pinch, Turner can play guard or tackle, Runyan can play both guard and tackle, Patrick plays guard and center. This allows the Packers to put quality players out there in most situations.

The expanded practice squads have been helpful this season. Do you think the league should keep them next year even if Covid-19 is no longer a big issue?

Thanks for commenting, PhantomII.

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PhantomII's picture

October 11, 2020 at 04:34 pm

Gil, I believe it would be very good for all teams health and players would like the chance to play and form a possible NFL career. If Covid is mitigated through a drug breakthrough or even better some kind of booster that minimizes the possibility of it getting the upper hand on the immune system, it could work. What the NFL needs is fans back in the seats and until that can happen the rumored lowering of the CAP will hang over their heads and minimize the likelihood of that happening. One thing for sure. We will find out.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 07:43 pm

Very true PhantomII. I hope for everybody's sake that Covid-19 will soon be under control. Football without fans isn't ideal but it's certainly better than no football at all. For most fans, it's a television league anyway, although the experience of attending a game live is always special. Thanks for the comment, always good to hear from you.

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CoachDino's picture

October 10, 2020 at 09:25 pm

Gil Great stuff as usual. Question: Who in the Packer organization is most responsible for assembling a roster that has this kind of talented depth? Is it talent or the ability to find the right fits with guys who might not have the perceived talent around the league, hence are available? Wouldn't the limited cap space situation make it even harder to assemble a deep squad?

Ps - yes, this is a loaded question.....

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 11, 2020 at 04:57 am

My answer: LaFleur.

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Coldworld's picture

October 11, 2020 at 07:26 am

It’s LaFleur’s template no doubt, but it seems Gute is the guy matching up from the comments that get out. Certainly the two seem to have got onto the same page such that Gute is giving LaFleur the pieces needed to complete his design.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 12, 2020 at 06:29 am

Gute is the obvious and probably correct answer, but I thought I would divert attention to the other big factor. Where the Pack is really most overcoming injuries is on offense, more so than on defense. That's because the offense is #1 in the NFL.

Offense misses #1 WR, starting RG, #2 WR, and preferred RT for a while. I give kudos to Gute for keeping Patrick and acquiring Wagner/Turner, but the ball coming out fast is making them look better. The running has been a little hit or miss on the right side. Lazard is a nice acquisition (kudos to Gute) but he's probably gone for the season. So far, no drop off, with or without Davante. That's coaching. It looks like GB might have weapons at TE this year as well. It is the same guys at WR and TE this year. Aaron Jones is facing the fewest number of 8 in the box looks in his career to date. Jones' receiving is about the same as last year ( a trifle less efficient) but his rushing efficiency is much better. Offense is triumphing, and it is more LaFleur than Gute.

On D, Clark's been out. Lancaster has rebounded. Keke has been a modest plus. M Adams has been a plus while doing his sometime I will and sometimes I won't thing. I think the offense has been important to helping this unit survive the absence of Clark. Kirksey stunk up the joint. He played at replacement level and got replaced by someone better, and someone who might have been inserted on merit but for the upside GB thinks Kirksey has. Tons of positive comments about Kirksey in TC, notwithstanding. always needed a replacement for Goodson. Barnes has been a nice surprise, though he got a little more exposed with larger snap counts in the last game, so kudos Gute. Redmond has been a decent backup FS for a while. Kudos to Gute for Sullivan this and last year.

Still, the pressure the offense is putting on opponents has been the biggest lift for this defense. CB depth is likely to be tested over the course of a long season still.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:50 pm

Definitely a part of it, Thegreatreynoldo. Thanks for commenting.

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Archie's picture

October 11, 2020 at 06:08 am

Obviously Gute is listening to LaFleur and giving him what he is looking for. Ditto on defense i.e., secondary looks strong and young, OLB/ILB looks like we have finally filled the cupboard and DL seems to be on the improve as well. Gotta like what the top brass is doing with this team.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:52 pm

They are all on the same page, working together and that is something you can't take for granted. Too many teams front offices are dysfunctional. The fact that Gute is getting LaFleur the players he needs to run his system is huge. Thanks for the comment, Archie.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:47 pm

The credit has to start with Gute I would think and of course the scouting staff and coaches. I think this year they really tried to bring in guys who were good fits in the system. Yes, the cap makes it tougher to to assemble to deep squad, but that is the same problem for all 32 teams. As for perceived talent, a lot of times, it is finding a guy who is a good fit in your system but may not be as good in another system. I always wondered what would have happened if Joe Montana was drafted by Shula's Dolphins and Dan Marino was running Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense. Systems matter more in the NFL than in other sports.
Thanks for the kind words and for commenting, CoachDino.

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stockholder's picture

October 11, 2020 at 08:12 am

Protect Rodgers and this team will keep rolling. Without him there would be No 4-0. We Love players stepping up. But Rodgers has been so impressive, he's just making everybody better around him. We know this team still has Needs. Encouragement has worked. I'll Even give credit to the coaches. But without Rodgers, the pressure would be so great, everything would collapse.

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 11, 2020 at 09:30 am

I think you can say that about most teams with elite QBs. Seattle w/o Wilson. KC w/o Mahomes. Pittsburgh w/o Ben...etc., etc. This is a QB driven league. You lose your QB, you lose your driver. This isn't something exclusive to Green Bay. At least we don't have Graham Harrell or DeShone Kizer as our backups anymore.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 02:11 pm

The coaching staff has more faith in Boyle than any backup since maybe Matt Flynn? It is definitely a QB driven league right now and with the salary cap, the days of having 2 or 3 elite QBs on your roster like Montana and Young are long gone. Thanks for the comment, 13TimeChamps.

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PhantomII's picture

October 11, 2020 at 10:35 am

I think the entire ML version of the offense is the opposite. Taking the pressure off the QB who has multiple targets available at every level and a solid run game to boot. I believe it would make a good QB look great and an Elite QB like Rodgers look Elite on a more consistent basis than he has been in years. We have a very good OL and good depth which if missing right now would have taken the fire out of any team. The fundamental areas have been improved upon. Good OL depth, Good RB depth which we have not had to use, and 2-3 TE's that are getting it done so far although Sternberger is slower to get going. Gute has picked thru a lot of WR's and we have been improvising with RB's instead. Rodgers has been masterful and honestly been playing better now than the last 6 yrs. He is making short throws to move the chains and cadence calls to make opposing Defenses jump opening free plays. Less crowd noise is making it even easier and more often. Don't get me wrong Rodgers is doing everything right and at an elite level, it's ML's Offense that is giving the tools to attack defenses and Rodgers is doing just that. ML has also changed up how he attacks individual teams with different groups as injuries have piled up. Without ML's Offense and an Elite Rodgers we are not 4-0 , no doubt.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 02:16 pm

It's been fun watching this offense run so well. Rodgers seems to much more comfortable in year 2 of LaFleur's system and I give credit to LaFleur from gradually implementing that system. The idea of scheming players open is something MM never really adjusted to late in his tenure in Titletown. Thanks for the comment, PhantomII.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:54 pm

No doubt having A-Rod playing at the top of his game is huge. An elite QB is a big part of success in the NFL unless you have a defense that is so good you don't need many points to win consistently. The o-line is beat up but they've overcome the injuries so far and have done a great job of run blocking and as you mentioned, protecting Rodgers. Thanks for the comment, stockholder.

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Since'61's picture

October 11, 2020 at 12:23 pm

Overcoming injuries is a combination of factors successfully coming together. First, the GM with good player selection, second the coaches providing the vision, motivation, teaching and schemes to help the players succeed on the field. Third is leadership on the field provided by Aaron Rodgers and Z. Smith. Fourth is execution which brings the first three factors together.

Execution produces the results. Our younger players and 2nd and 3rd stringers are executing because of the first three factors. They are being given the chance to play without concern for making a mistake. That is a key because it allows talent and training to take over. These are very positive signs resulting from a positive approach from the GM down. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ‘61

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CheesyTex's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:15 pm

Excellent, '61. Perhaps it should go even one step further?

Never been much of a Murphy fan, but it's looking like it may be time to give him some props too. When the reorg was going on and the Head Coach selection process abruptly ended with the surprise choice of LaFleur it raised a lot of eyebrows. It now looks like they found the linchpin to provide "...the vision, motivation, teaching, and schemes to help the players succeed on the field". He seems ideal for today's game.

Positive signs, indeed.

Be safe.

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:59 pm

Yes, got to give Murphy credit as well. The front office is working well with each other and the coaching staff and it makes a big difference. Well said, CheesyTex. Thanks for commenting.

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Since'61's picture

October 11, 2020 at 02:14 pm

CheesyTex - you are correct that Murphy deserves a share of the credit, especially for MLF. The lingering doubt I have with Murphy is that he left the previous regime in place for too long, while he was focused on non-football issues such hotels and attractions.

The flip side of course is that he made a move earlier on MM/TT we probably would not have MLF today. So we’ll never know what we may have gained or lost if Murphy chucked MM in 2017 or earlier.

For now it’s all good. Hopefully we remain in track. You stay safe as well. Thanks, Since ‘61

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GilMartin's picture

October 11, 2020 at 01:56 pm

Well said, Since'61. It really has been a great effort by the organization to get the pieces in place and then develop them so they're ready when needed. The results speak for themselves. Thanks for commenting, always good to hear from you.

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MarkinMadison's picture

October 11, 2020 at 10:24 pm

DK Metcalf just put on a show.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 12, 2020 at 10:45 am

It was either him or Jenkins. I'll stick with the LG.

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MarkinMadison's picture

October 13, 2020 at 09:00 pm

Umm, not my point. At all.

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PhantomII's picture

October 12, 2020 at 10:49 am

So did Claypool. The WR I wanted after Jefferson was taken by the queens. Perfect for our current system with speed. Taken in the 2nd round by Steelers.

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