Remember Week 1?
The Green Bay Packers started the season with Sam Shields, Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins as their top three cornerbacks.
When the Packers face the New York Giants in Sunday’s Wild Card game, there’s a chance they will have none of those three on the field.
A concussion suffered in that opening game at Jacksonville ended Shields’ season and perhaps his career. Randall, who has been in and out of the lineup all season, was limited to 26 snaps at Detroit on Sunday night because of a knee injury. Rollins replaced Randall in the lineup and played 23 snaps, his night ending with a head injury sustained on the second-to-last play of the third quarter. He spent the night in Detroit before returning to Green Bay on Monday. Coach Mike McCarthy said Rollins walked through the locker room and “everything so far is going very well.” Rookie cornerback Makinton Dorelant suffered a knee injury on special teams just before Rollins’ injury and also was carted off the field.
“We have a lot of work to do,” McCarthy said, stating the obvious on Monday. “We just came from a staff meeting. Just like you do every Monday, you have a projection of how you think you’re going to play the game.”
In a 23-16 victory against the Giants in Week 5, LaDarius Gunter and Rollins started at cornerback with Micah Hyde in the slot. Green Bay’s defense played one of its best games of the season. The Packers limited Eli Manning to 199 passing yards and a passer rating of 78.2. Star receiver Odell Beckham caught five passes for 56 yards, with his lone touchdown coming with 2:54 remaining. Combined, the Giants’ receiver trio of Beckham, Sterling Shepard (two catches, 14 yards) and Victor Cruz (zero catches) caught seven passes for 70 yards. Manning threw 21 passes to them to get that meager production.
Gunter and Hyde will have key roles again in the rematch. If Randall can play, he’d likely start on the outside with Hyde in the slot. Randall didn’t have much to say on Monday, saying only that he banged his knee against the Lions and that he’s “day to day.” If Randall can’t play – or can’t stay in the game – that’s when the chaos begins. Against the Lions, Gunter and Hyde played on the outside and safeties Morgan Burnett and Kentrell Brice split time in the slot. The other corners on the roster are Dorleant and fellow undrafted rookie Josh Hawkins, who has played one snap on defense since Week 3.
“At this point, it's just all hands on deck and doing whatever's needed to help the team win,” Burnett said on Monday. “We wish our brothers speedy recoveries. You don't want to see a guy down, but you've got to have his back. If they need you to do something, you go out and do it to the best of your ability.”
The big injury news from before the game was the decision to make receiver Randall Cobb an inactive for the second consecutive week due to an ankle injury sustained vs. Seattle in Week 14. McCarthy struck an optimistic tone that he’d regain the services of one of his top playmakers.
“I’m hopeful,” McCarthy said. “I know the medical staff feels much better about his chances this week.”
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.