When Blake Martinez sat on the ground, clutching his knee, it marked the latest in a long line of injuries that have decimated the roster and helped destroy the Green Bay Packers’ dreams of a Super Bowl championship.
While the Packers regained the services of tight end Jared Cook on Sunday night, the injuries continued to pile up at an alarming rate. By the end of a 42-24 verdict at Washington that sent them careening to a fourth consecutive loss, the Packers had seven Week 1 starters out of action.
While Demetri Goodson’s gruesome knee injury was by far the most serious — defensive coordinator Dom Capers winced when talking about it on Monday — Martinez’s fourth-quarter injury holds the most intrigue. The Packers already were without fellow starting inside linebacker Jake Ryan. Green Bay finished Sunday night’s game with Joe Thomas and practice-squad call-up Carl Bradford manning those positions. They very well could be the starting tandem on Monday night at Philadelphia, unless Capers and coach Mike McCarthy turn to outside linebacker Clay Matthews.
“We haven’t discussed it yet,” Capers said on Monday evening. “That’s what we’ll do first thing tomorrow. Tomorrow is our game plan day. We’ll look to who we think is going to be available and look at our alternatives, what we want to do. What the Eagles are doing influences those things. We’ll talk about that tomorrow as we start our game plan meetings.”
Injuries pulverized the depth charts at running back, cornerback and inside linebacker. With running back Eddie Lacy on injured reserve, the Packers traded for Knile Davis (no longer on the team), elevated Don Jackson (injured reserve) and signed Christine Michael. At cornerback, the starting tandem of Sam Shields and Damarious Randall have made five of a possible 20 starts, and Quinten Rollins hasn’t played close to expectations following a three-game absence from a groin injury that was “bigger” than he let on. And now the injuries have moved over to inside linebacker.
“You define roles for each and every one of your players, but that’s Week 1. Things change,” McCarthy said on Monday. “The health of your football team changes. You get into spots where we’ve been the last month, where guys’ roles and responsibilities (are) adjusted. How do you Mx that out? You have a role player that’s usually playing 25 to 30 plays but now he’s playing 60. We have a number of those situations on defense. How are we offsetting that? It’s a challenge, particularly when you continue to have injuries in the game.”
Right guard T.J. Lang missed just his his third start in six seasons. Naturally, his replacement, Don Barclay, injured a shoulder during presume and was replaced at halftime by rookie Jason Sprigs. Sprigs, who spent training camp and the preseason at tackle, performed well. Along with Barclay and Goodson, rookie Central Brice (back) was knocked out of Sunday’s game.
While McCarthy didn’t have any specifics on any of the newly injured, at least Randall could return after missing the last five games.
“He’s getting closer,” McCarthy said. “He’s had very good workouts. His work on the field Sunday was very good, so Damarious Randall is getting close.”
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.