Injuries Remain Story for Packers

A dozen players were scratched from the 27-17 loss at Cleveland, with three more lost during the game.

The Packers won the 2010 NFL title despite having a league-high 15 players on injured reserve at the end of the season. Their championship defense unofficially kicked off Saturday night with the attrition numbers still high.

A dozen players were scratched from the 27-17 loss at the Cleveland Browns, and all but one of them - veteran cornerback Charles Woodson was rested - were out because of injuries.

Those sidelined included starting tight end Jermichael Finley, whose comeback from knee surgery early last season has been tripped up by a recent glute injury; nickel cornerback Sam Shields, who suffered a hip injury on the final play of the team's last practice Aug. 11 before the game; and rookie running back/kick returner Alex Green, who dropped out of that practice with an ankle injury.

Finley said after Saturday's game he will play in Green Bay's next exhibition contest, Friday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Green Bay also counted three injuries in the preseason opener: running back James Starks (ankle) and tight ends Andrew Quarless (groin) and Tom Crabtree (ribs). Head coach Mike McCarthy after the game didn't speculate on the nature of the injuries, but Starks indicated his setback wasn't serious.

Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who aggravated a glute injury during the first week of training camp, made the start Saturday but was pulled from the game after only four plays.

It was Matthews' first appearance in a preseason game since the exhibition finale in 2009, his rookie season. He missed most of camp last year with a hamstring injury.

Matthews revealed early in this year's camp that he played part of the second half of last season with a painful stress fracture in his lower left leg. Matthews didn't miss any games because of what was listed as a shin injury by the club and finished the season with a team-high 17 sacks, including the playoffs, as he finished runner-up for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"I was still out there on Sundays, and I was good enough to play," Matthews said. "I wouldn't have put myself out there on the field if I was going to hurt this team."

Head coach Mike McCarthy called it a "coach's decision" to hold Woodson, 34, out of Saturday's game in his native Ohio.

The 14th-year veteran has impressed the coaching staff by being a tireless worker early in camp.

"He's practiced more here than he has my two training camps (with the team) prior to this year," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "He wants to be out there, and he's taken a lot of snaps, and to me, he's moving around pretty well."

Woodson didn't entirely take the night off at Cleveland. He worked up a sweat before the teams' pregame warm-ups with an on-field workout that included running sprints while wearing a weighted vest.

"As good as I feel right now, I guess I refuse to put a limit on it right now. I'm just going to play until I can't play," Woodson told the Packers TV network during the game, when asked how much longer he sees himself playing.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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