Every NFL team has to deal with injuries, it is just the nature of the beast. For the Green Bay Packers, they live by the mantra “next man up” when they lose a member of their roster to injury. Meaning it is up to the next man to step in and help the Packers not miss a beat. However, this season, the Green Bay Packers next man up mantra is being pushed to the limit. They have dealt with key injuries not only on offense but also on defense. They have been able to push through, but it is getting to a point where they can’t deal with too many more injuries, or things might get ugly.
The Green Bay Packers Next Man Up Mantra Being Pushed to the Limit
There hasn’t been a position hit harder by injuries for the Packers than offensive tackle. Left tackle David Bakhtiari, who has the task of protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers blindside, has been out of the starting lineup since week one. Bakhtiari has been relatively healthy throughout his young career but during the Packers opening week victory over the Seattle Seahawks, he suffered a hamstring injury, an injury that has forced him out of the starting lineup since that game.
The Packers had planned to use second year player Jason Spriggs in case something were to happen to Bakhtiari this season. But as is case with Bakhtiari, Spriggs has an injured hamstring, an injury so severe he was placed on injured reserve, joining fellow offensive lineman Don Barclay who was placed on the list during training camp with an ankle injury. Without Spriggs, the Packers used second year tackle Kyle Murphy in his place, but that only lasted one week, with Murphy joining the long list of injured tackles when he was lost to a foot injury. Murphy subsequently joined Barclay and Spriggs on the injured reserve.
Without any other options, last week in their 35-14 victory over the Chicago Bears, the Packers were forced to move starting left guard Lane Taylor outside to tackle and inserted Lucas Patrick into Taylor’s starting left guard position. Taylor has been a guard since high school and has never started a game at tackle at any level, but he stepped in and did a remarkable job. However, having a starting guard, who has no experience playing tackle, playing at what arguably is the most important position on the offensive line, isn’t what the Packers need or desire. The Packers need for Bakhtiari to get healthy and get back to protecting the blindside of their franchise quarterback.
One injury that shouldn’t come as much of a shocker is the injury to right offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga. Until last season, his best as a professional, Bulaga wasn’t able to stay healthy enough to play a full schedule. But it appears that Bulaga staying healthy last season was a rarity, and not the norm.
Bulaga missed the first two weeks of the season, but returned in the Packers week three victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, only to leave once again with an injured ankle. During Bulaga’s time away, Murphy and backup offensive lineman Justin McCray filled in for Bulaga. Murphy did a solid job, but with losing him to injury, McCray was forced into action at right tackle, a position he wasn’t supposed to be playing.
McCray made the opening day roster as a backup guard and center, but with Murphy and Bulaga out, responsibility fell to McCray, who looked like a player that was unprepared to play outside on the offensive line. The Packers can’t depend on McCray; Bulaga needs to get his ankle ready to go and do it quickly.
The Packers also might be finally losing faith in Bulaga, who has proven that he can’t be depended because of his constant nicks and injuries. If he continues to battle health issues, it wouldn’t be shocking, and undeserved, if the Packers cut ties with Bulaga this off-season.
Misery Loves Company
The Packers offensive tackles aren’t the only unit on the Packers offense that finds themselves depleted by injury. The Packers running backs took some major hits last week, when the Packers top two running backs were lost to injury. Ty Montgomery (ribs) and Jamal Williams (knee) were both lost to injuries last week.
The amount of time they will miss is unknown, so it will be up to rookie running back Aaron Jones, who stepped in during the Bears game and carried the ball 13 times for 49 yards and a touchdown, to carry the load for the Packers running game.
But the most talked about injury came to the Packers number three wide receiver Davante Adams. In the third quarter of last week’s game, Adams suffered a helmet to helmet hit from Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan, a hit that got Trevathan suspended for two games. The hit appeared to knock out Adams and he was forced to leave the field by cart.
Adams spent a day in the hospital but appears to be on the mend. However, like Montgomery and Williams, the amount of time Adams will miss is unknown. The Packers are deep at wide receiver, but Adams is one of the biggest playmakers on the offensive side of the ball and will be missed.
Packers Defensive Also Suffers Injuries
If the injuries on the Packers offense wasn’t hard enough to deal with, the Packers suffered injuries to key defensive personnel as well. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels was unblockable in their opening victory over the Seahawks. Daniels was a man among boys that game and caused havoc in the middle of the Packers defensive line.
But the following week in the Packers loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Daniels pulled up lame early in the game with an injured hip. The injury caused Daniels to miss the rest of that game and forced him to sit out the following two games. Without Daniels, the Packers lost their best inside pass rusher. The Packers are hoping to get Daniels back soon, but it appears it might be some time before he is back to full strength.
Also being bit by the injury bug was fellow defensive players Nick Perry and cornerback Davon House. Perry, who like Bulaga has battled injuries throughout his career. He suffered a hand injury that caused him to undergo surgery before the Packers game against the Bengals. Perry missed that game, but came back last week against the Bears, although limited in playing time.
Without Perry, veteran outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks stepped in and gave the Packers a strong push at Perry’s usual outside linebacker position. It appears that Brooks has leapfrogged fellow outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell on the depth chart. Even at 33 years of age, Brooks gives the Packers more of a presence than the younger Fackrell, who appears to lack the burst to be an adequate pass rusher in the NFL.
House suffered a quad injury in week two and hasn’t been able to play since then. Although rookie Kevin King has stepped in and done a nice job replacing House, depth has become a question at the cornerback position for the Packers. Especially after the bizarre situation with cornerback Damarious Randall, who was benched after giving up a late first half touchdown against the Bears. The Packers would love to get back the veteran House, who provides size, length, and experience at the cornerback position.
The Packers are sitting at 3-1 heading into week five and really, with the injuries they have had to deal with on both sides of the ball, they should consider themselves lucky they have that record. Injuries occur every week in the NFL, but the Packers are suffering at an unbelievable pace and if it keeps up, it will be hard for them to keep masking the problem. The Packers need to get healthy, and fast, or their record will start to turn in the wrong direction.