How Will Healthy Packers Respond to Injuries This Season?
This is a disappointing answer. No, I don’t think they can stay healthy – or at least as healthy as they’ve stayed so far.
For the Packers or any NFL team, the start of the season has been a remarkable run of health for Green Bay. The injury to Aaron Rodgers notwithstanding, they have one starter (linebacker Jake Ryan) currently on injured reserve.
That’s pretty good considering they’ve gone through a month of training camp, four preseason games and now two regular season games. For the Packers, that’s outstanding because recently, they haven’t done well on the injury front.
I don’t want to get into the strength and conditioning issue – that’s a non-issue. Here’s what I wrote at the beginning of last season about the Packers’ strength and conditioning team and injuries after Week 2’s loss to Atlanta:
The reality is, injuries are just a part of the game. Sometimes the Packers will have more. Sometimes they’ll have less. By and large, there’s very little else (if anything!) the team could be doing to prevent the injuries currently badgering the team.
Just look at the kind of things the team is dealing with right now:
Bryan Bulaga sprained an ankle during a 9-on-7 drill in August. The CBA basically bubble wraps players already, so it would have been hard for him to avoid this kind of contact.
Montravius Adams is recovering from a stress fracture he developed during non-contact portions of practice early in training camp. He couldn’t really be any safer.
Ahmad Brooks has a concussion. Concussions are pretty much endemic to football. He was already wearing a helmet.
Meanwhile, David Bakhtiari, Mike Daniels, Jordy Nelson, Jahri Evans, Jason Spriggs, Kentrell Brice, and a few others are all dealing with some variety of soft tissue injury, generally a groin, quad, or hamstring strain. By and large, these injuries are perfectly representative of the sort of wear and tear you’d expect from a sport that features a lot of sudden starts, quick stops, and heavy lifting. Preventing them mostly involves maintaining a high level of physical fitness, and given what we know about the Packers’ training staff, isn’t it reasonable to conclude that they’re already doing everything they can to prevent these kinds of injuries?
Yes, the Packers are dealing with a lot of injuries, and yes, it’s making life difficult for the team right now. But blaming someone will get you nowhere, especially if the people you’re trying to blame are considered among the best in the business.
The Packers have had a very good run of health to start the 2018 season. To hope that it continues is a bit of a fool’s hope because it’s football. People get injured – a lot. The Packers will have to deal with injuries at some point.
Maybe the big scare to Aaron Rodgers at the beginning of the season was their big, scary injury of the year. Maybe the Packers will be healthy from now on. I wouldn’t count on it. The questions going forward are twofold:
Where do the injuries happen?
The impact future injuries will have on the Packers will be bigger or smaller based on where they happen on their roster.
For example, say the Packers have an injury to an area of their team that’s pretty shallow depth-wise already. Imagine Bryan Bulaga, the team’s starting right tackle, goes down.
There’s Jason Spriggs and… nobody else. Kyle Murphy is gone, Byron Bell showed he can’t play right tackle, and I don’t think we want to go with another half-season of Justin McCray there again. That’s pretty thin.
Say starting right guard Justin McCray goes down. You put Byron Bell in there, but are you super excited about that? This is where it’d be great to have Cole Madison around, but that’s a different issue. If the Packers have injuries there, they’ve got problems.
Imagine, however, either one of the team’s outside linebackers – Nick Perry or Clay Matthews – goes down with an injury. That’s a pretty safe assumption considering it’s happened just about every year.
If one of them goes down, is it really affect the Packers all that much? I don’t think so. The Packers haven’t done a whole lot with their outside linebacking group either throughout the offseason, training camp or the preseason. How does it really hurt the defense considering what we’ve seen from the group so far? The Packers could possibly skate by.
Tons and tons of injuries change the equation, but we’re not quite there yet. Let’s wait and see where the injuries pop up.
How do the Packers respond?
I think it’s pretty clear from what we’ve seen from Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst so far that he’s going to be more aggressive in his responses to roster issues than Ted Thompson was during the latter part of his tenure in Green Bay.
If the Packers were to have an injury or two to their outside linebacker group, it will be interesting to see what Brian Gutekunst does to address that situation.
Sign a street free agent?
Trade for a veteran pass rusher?
Promote from the practice squad?
We are going to eventually have some issues with injuries this season, it happens to everyone.