OK, this is getting ridiculous. With the news that emerging playmaker Jermichael Finley is likely lost for the season, the obvious revelation is this: maybe it's just not the Pack's year. In a league where the difference between 11-5 and 8-8 is a couple of key playmakers, the Pack is dealing with injuries to three of its four "playmakers."
Rodgers, Finley, Woodson and Matthews are difference-makers on this team and three of them may not suit up on Sunday. If Rodgers passes his concussion tests he'll be on the field and the early signs are encouraging He was able to practice on a limited basis today. With Matthews, it looks like a game-time decision and the team has shown itself to be very conservative when it comes to Matthews and his hammies. His explosive speed sets him apart--a tender hammy could pop at any time and then we're looking at a long-term absence.
So we know that Finley and Barnett are out for the forseeable future, if not the rest of the season. Rodgers and Matthews missed practice Wednesday and their availability is in doubt. Also on the sidelines Wednesday (not counting safety Derrick Martin who's now on the I.R.): Ryan Pickett, Mark Tauscher and Donald Lee. Doesn't look like any of them will play Sunday. Limited in practice: Cullen Jenkins, Nick Collins and Chad Clifton.
On the bright side, Brandon Chillar, Sam Shields and Quinn Johnson returned to practice Wednesday, but the Pack listed 13 players on the injury report, compared to three for the well-rested Dolphins. Chillar was unable to make it two straight days--he missed practice on Thursday.
Through give games the Pack sits at 3-2, but it feels empty because both losses were games the Pack led most of the way. Last Sunday's game turned when Matthews left the field. The defense is entirely different without him out there. I don't know about you, but I really, really want him on the field when Brett comes to town next Sunday.
You start to get the feeling it's just not the Pack's year. After Grant and Burnett were lost for the season early an ominous tone was set. It took a darker turn in the past week with Finley and Barnett joining the party on the sidelines.
The Packers will have to adapt and that means more four receiver sets and a reliance on rookie tight end Andrew Quarless. The offense converted just 2 of 13 third downs last week, part of a season-long trend. This team excelled in third downs last year. For the sake of the shaky defense, they need to extend some drives: that means cutting down on the drops and Rodgers gettting more in synch with his guys.
Defensively, Desmond Bishop and Mike Neal will be counted on to step in, as well as Frank Zombo, if Matthews misses time. The safety position is also very dicey right now with Collins dealing with a knee and Charlie Peprah trying to figure things out on the fly.
The trade deadline is next week and suddenly running back doesn't seem like the most pressing need. Thompson could look for a linebacker, safety, tight end, d. lineman. That thought shows how dire things have gotten for our favorite team A deep post-season run is getting harder and harder to envision in 2010.
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