Receiver's play-making ability will be missed

During the off-season the Green Bay Packers prepared with the possibility of playing without Javon Walker. Unfortunately, that possibility of Walker missing an extended period of time or the season over a contract dispute, became a reality Monday when the Pro Bowl receiver was officially ruled out for the season with an injury.

Though the Packers inadvertently prepared for life without Walker by selecting Terrence Murphy in the second round of the NFL draft this year, Green Bay still has suffered a major blow to its offense. The Packers lost one of their primary play-makers in Walker, a deep threat who caught a career-high 12 touchdown passes and averaged a whopping 15.5 yards per catch.

Now the Packers must proceed immediately with Donald Driver, a perfect complement to Walker, Robert Ferguson and Antonio Chatman as the top three receivers. Murphy has only a few practices under his belt with the Packers and no preseason game experience because of hamstring and knee injuries that he sustained in training camp. Murphy showed all kinds of potential in the team's minicamps this year, but he has yet to do anything in pads.

As much as Murphy has a long way to do, so does the Packers' offense. Green Bay stunk up Ford Field on Sunday with an offense that shined in 2004 but never got into a rhythm in Week 1.

"Craig Nall and I were talking after the game," a dejected Brett Favre said. "He said, ‘Well, the good news is it's only one.' I said, ‘Well, the bad news is there could be 15 more if we don't change that.' And I mean that. I don't mean to downplay our team or make it any worse than it is, but in football, you only have 16 games and you don't have many opportunities. … It could be a long year if we don't pick it up. The thing is it's correctable. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing."

The penalties and dropped passes indeed are correctable for the Packers offense. But there is not a whole lot Green Bay can do without Walker, who often draws double coverage. Will defenses double up on Driver? Ferguson? Chatman? Probably not. This means that opponents may use an extra defender to pressure Favre.

"As I told the guys in the locker room – Fergie, Donald, Duece (Antonio Chatman), Murphy – you've got to be excited about the opportunity that's in front of you. Now's the time to step up. That's what it is going to take, including me."

"The bottom line is getting points, somehow, someway, and we've got to be able to do that."

Without Walker, it will be difficult for the Packers to put points on the board. Heck, even with Walker the Packers struggled against the Lions. Chatman boldly told reporters today that "we all can go deep." The fact is, only Walker has the body and ability to leap high into the air and muscle the ball away from one or more defenders. Driver is a close second, with excellent leaping ability and decent speed. Ferguson and Chatman don't even come close to Walker's ability. The jury is out on Murphy until he gets comfortable with the offense, which could be a while.

Walker will be missed greatly by the Packers this year, especially by an offense that began the season misfiring against the Lions.

Todd Korth

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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