Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY

With Injuries, Packers Juggle Short-Term Answers, Long-Term Decisions

The Packers have major decisions to make — and not much time to make them — heading into Thursday night's game vs. Chicago.

Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL, but they’re especially troublesome when they afflict position groups.

That’s the biggest issue on the injury front as the Green Bay Packers embark on a short week to host the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.


Eddie Lacy powered and hurdled his way to 65 yards on 17 carries in Sunday’s loss to Dallas as the team’s lone true running back. James Starks had knee surgery on Sunday and is out of the equation for at least a week or two. On a short week, the Packers probably can’t add a veteran, which makes practice-squad prospect Don Jackson, an undrafted rookie, the only other option.

“We’re still gathering information,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I don’t know if we’ll have it sorted out until Tuesday, maybe Wednesday.”

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The biggest sore spot is at cornerback. The Packers entered Sunday’s game without Sam Shields (concussion) and Quinten Rollins (groin), then lost Damarious Randall in the second quarter when he re-injured the groin that kept him out of the Giants game a week earlier. After the game on Sunday, McCarthy ruled out Rollins for Thursday night. On a short week, it’s hard to imagine Randall can be a factor. Shields hasn’t practiced or played since Sept. 11 at Jacksonville. Even if cleared from the concussion protocol, could he possibly get himself ready on a short week of practice?

“We can just rewind the tape and kind of use the same answer I just gave” on the running backs, McCarthy said.

To get enough healthy bodies at running back and cornerback, common sense would suggest the Packers promote Jackson and sign a corner. However, that would necessitate the creation of roster spaces. The Packers learned the perils of that when they released quarterback Joe Callahan last week. Green Bay hoped to re-sign Callahan to the practice squad. Instead, the Saints claimed him off waivers and added him to their 53-man roster.

“It’s a long year. It’s just really never one factor that factors other positions,” McCarthy said. “Because, frankly, you have players that you may have to jeopardize putting out there. Joe Callahan, the plan with Joe was to be here, and you take that chance, you accept that risk, and that’s what happens. So, those are things that you have to weigh. We had an ongoing three- or four-day conversation last week, and it’ll be the same here (but) we’ve just got less time to do it. It’s never, ‘Give me another running back.’ Or, ‘Give me another corner.’ That is the chess match right there. If you’re talking about chess match in the game of football, it’s managing your roster.”

That’s the juggling act for general manager Ted Thompson and McCarthy this week. Do they make long-lasting roster decisions based on short-term issues? Or do they try to get by on Thursday night with the same secondary that got demolished by the Cowboys, with LaDarius Gunter and Micah Hyde at corner, Demetri Goodson the No. 3 and rookie Josh Hawkins providing the lone depth? And receiver Ty Montgomery, who had a big day in the passing game but fumbled twice, serving as the lone depth behind Lacy?

To make an addition, the Packers’ three deepest spots are defensive line, wide receiver and safety. With the return of Mike Pennel, the Packers have six defensive linemen. That could make Christian Ringo expendable. The Packers have seven receivers, with Jared Abbrederis consistently playing the fewest snaps. He played four on Sunday after back-to-back games of zero. The Packers have six safeties, including undrafted rookies Kentrell Brice and Marwin Evans.

Releasing Evans could end with the same result as releasing Callahan. The Packers are stacked at safety now but Hyde and Chris Banjo will be free agents at the end of the season.

Neither team practiced on Monday. The injury report is based on estimations.

WR Jared Abbrederis Quad DNP
WR Davante Adams Concussion DNP
S Chris Banjo Hamstring DNP
RT Bryan Bulaga Back DNP
WR Randall Cobb Back DNP
RB Eddie Lacy Ankle DNP
CB Damarious Randall Groin DNP
CB Quinten Rollins Groin DNP
CB Sam Shields Concussion DNP
RB James Starks Knee DNP
CB Bryce Callahan Hamstring DNP
QB Jay Cutler Thum DNP
DL Eddie Goldman Ankle DNP
DB Deiondre Hall Ankle DNP
RB Jeremy Langford Ankle DNP
CB Tracy Porter Knee DNP
WR Eddie Royal Toe DNP
G Josh Sitton Ankle DNP
LB Sam Acho Ribs Limited
RB Ka'Deem Carey Hamstring Limited
LB Leonard Floyd Calf Limited
LB Jerrell Freeman Wrist Limited
TE Zach Miller Ribs Limited

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