It’s a devastating move for the Green Bay Packers. Raji, who was injured during the second series of Friday night’s win vs. Oakland, appeared poised for a strong season due to a move back to nose tackle and the Packers’ scheme changes. Moreover, defensive line was one of the team’s weakest positions in terms of proven talent.
A source who has remained in contact with Ryan Pickett said the Packers have not contacted Pickett. That’s no surprise. Pickett, who played nose tackle the past three seasons, no longer fits Green Bay’s defensive style, which has been tailored to the athletic strengths of Raji and young defensive ends Datone Jones and Mike Daniels.
With Pickett and, presumably, Johnny Jolly out of the picture, it appears Green Bay will go with the horses it’s got. Josh Boyd, who replaced Raji against the Raiders, will take over at nose tackle. A fifth-round pick last year, Boyd was inactive for the first five games before playing in nine of the final 11. He tallied eight tackles. Letroy Guion, who started for the Vikings the past two seasons, hasn’t practiced in training camp due to an injured hamstring. Guion’s injury had opened the door for undrafted rookie Mike Pennel to make the team. Now, Pennel seems like a lock.
The Packers could try to deal from their positions of strength to try to fortify the defensive line. Green Bay has an abundance of talent at outside linebacker and cornerback.
The news stood in stark contrast to coach Mike McCarthy’s postgame comments, with McCarthy saying Raji felt optimistic about the news.
Not only is the news bad for the Packers but it’s bad for Raji. Met with tepid interest in free agency, he settled for a one-year deal worth up to $4 million — $3.1 million base, $500,000 signing bonus, $300,000 worth of roster bonuses broken into weekly installments for each week on the 46-man roster and a $100,00 workout bonus. Now, he’ll go into free agency in 2015 having not played a snap this season and not having a sack since Week 12 of the 2012 season.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.