Brad Jones was the Week 1 starter and Brady Poppinga the top reserve. Both were placed on injured reserve in late October, with rookie Frank Zombo moving into the starting lineup. And now Zombo is down with a knee sprain, meaning position coach Kevin Greene is working with his fourth player at the position, Erik Walden.
"I'm not keeping count and you shouldn't either," Greene said with a laugh.
It's a good thing he's got a sense of humor – not to mention a gift for getting guys ready. Last year, Jones replaced Aaron Kampman and played remarkably well as a rookie seventh-round pick. This year, the undrafted Zombo probably has played at a higher level than Jones. And now, Greene has to prepare Walden, who was out of the league for a month after being cast aside by the Dolphins.
"I absolutely feel good about putting him out there," Greene said on Friday. "He has an explosive ability about him that I really like. He's a smart kid and he's self-conscious. He wants to do well. He's not an ego that I have to deal with. He wants to learn, he wants to listen, he asks questions. He's a good kid to have in your room."
Walden, a third-year player from Middle Tennessee State, was drafted by Dallas in 2008 but released in the final cuts. He went on to play eight games for the Chiefs and six games for the Dolphins as a rookie, then in 11 games for Miami last year. He failed to make the final roster out of training camp this year but was brought back to play in Weeks 2 and 3 before being released again. He worked out for a couple of teams before joining the Packers on Oct. 27, when Jones and Poppinga were put on injured reserve.
So, from out of football for a month to making his first NFL start. Quite the change, hey?
"You're right," said Walden, who earned considerable playing time immediately after being signed against the Jets and again last week at Detroit. "From starting out the season in Miami, cut, being out a month, and then coming here and getting into the mix and now starting in prime time on Sunday night, what more can you ask for?"
A stable career would be one thing to ask for. And he's got that opportunity if he can make a good impression down the stretch.
"Exactly, exactly," he said. "The NFL's about competition and injuries occur. I was sorry to see Zombo go down but it's my job to step in without us missing a beat. I'm just looking forward to it and just trying to take advantage of it and go out and have fun and get this win. We need this win bad."
Packers injury report
Out: DE Cullen Jenkins. Doubtful: QB Aaron Rodgers (concussion); LB Frank Zombo (knee). Questionable: LB Diyral Briggs (ankle); CB Pat Lee (ankle); S Anthony Smith (ankle). Probable: S Atari Bigby (hamstring); LB Desmond Bishop (hamstring); T Chad Clifton (knees); G Daryn Colledge (knee); FB Korey Hall (knee); LB Clay Matthews (shin); DE Ryan Pickett (ankle); G Josh Sitton (knee); CB Charles Woodson (toe/ankle).
The Packers have 15 players on the injury report (with the addition of Briggs and Bishop) and 13 on injured reserve, in case you're counting. Two defensive starters won't play with Jenkins ruled out and Zombo saying he won't play.
"This week, definitely not," Zombo said. "Though I'm a pretty fast healer, I feel like – my ankle during camp (for instance). Things are going well. I'm pretty happy about the next two games, though, which were kind of skeptical before. I'm healing quick, so I'm pretty excited about that."
Patriots injury report
Questionable: DL Ron Brace (concussion); TE Aaron Hernandez (flu); CB Devin McCourty (rib); NT Myron Pryor (back); DL Gerard Warren (knee); DL Mike Wright (concussion). Probable: CB Kyle Arrington (elbow); QB Tom Brady (shoulder and foot); WR Deion Branch (knee); CB Darius Butler (thigh).
Hernandez, the rookie with the Jermichael Finley-like skill-set, was added to the list. He has 41 catches for 532 yards and four touchdowns.
-- Asked by Patriots beat writers about the legendary Vince Lombardi, coach Bill Belichick said: "I'd say the championship years in the '60s, how disciplined his teams were and all the Hall of Fame players they had on his team. They had eight or nine players – whatever it was – it was a lot of guys."
-- Defensive coordinator Dom Capers spent the 2008 season working under Belichick. Anything that could help the Packers for this week? "I think many times that stuff's overrated. It's kind of like us. When we were getting ready for Detroit last week, I was watching our first Detroit game and we were playing a whole different team out there. I could name you about eight guys who were playing that day that we didn't have last week. So, you've got to be able to adapt as you move along. We're going to be different this week. You start out, you know what you'd like to do and what you want it to look like, but it changes as you go through the course of the season."
-- If Matt Flynn starts at quarterback, Bodog.com's over-under on passing yards is 225.5 and 57 percent accuracy. With their loss last week, the Packers have tumbled to 22-1 odds to win the Super Bowl.
-- This has nothing to do with the Packers, but it's amusing. You can bet on Michael Vick's first dog (assuming a judge allows him to get one). The odds range from 1-1 for a pit bull to 30-1 for a Chihuahua.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.