Most of the major news surrounding the Green Bay Packers on the day after their season-opening win over Philadelphia involved injuries.
And, as is the case most of the time with things like these, the news wasn’t particularly good.
Head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Monday that running back Ryan Grant (ankle) is out for Sunday’s home opener with Buffalo. He gave no real specifics on the injury or when Grant would be able to return. He also would not say if surgery was a possibility.
It’s hard to guess how much time Grant will miss. If this injury is what I think it is, the dreaded high ankle sprain, he could be out quite awhile, maybe a month or longer. Grant’s game is based on speed and any loss of mobility – however slight – pretty much wrecks his chances to be effective. You also have to factor in Brandon Jackson’s solid showing against the Eagles and the team’s fairly soft early season slate. In other words, it’s set up well for Grant to fully heal himself and return for, say, the Miami game at home Oct. 17.
Again, though, I’m clearly not a doctor, so I could indeed be off on this. And Grant is known for his durability and will absolutely rehab his butt off in order to return sooner rather than later – particularly if Jackson keeps getting better.
It appears as though the team will stick with Jackson and John Kuhn – more on the reasons behind that in a bit- as the running backs, at least for the time being (practice squad member James Johnson is the team’s only other running back). Remember how I said towards the end of the preseason that I hated the idea of keeping two running backs? Remember how I said the team could be in trouble if either Grant or Jackson was hurt? A lot of people disagreed with me on that. I have to wonder how they feel now that Kuhn could be in line for significant playing time at the position.
The running game should be fine as, again, the schedule isn’t the toughest around for the next month. But if it struggles, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Harrell placed on injured reserve
And Justin Harrell’s time with the Packers is all but up.
Harrell was placed on injured reserve Monday after tearing his ACL in the first half of the game Sunday. To hear some of the coaches tell it, they’d very much like Harrell to return next season. In my mind, this seems fairly impossible.
The Packers were more patient than most regarding Harrell’s oft-troublesome back. That’s one thing. But to add a serious knee injury into the mix? How could the team justifiy bringing him back for year five? It just doesn’t seem feasible. That said, I’m not going to rip Harrell like you might think I’m going to. Honestly, how can you feel anything but bad for him?
Consider how much work he put in rehabbing from all the back troubles. His signing bonus was already cashed. He’d already earned a few years’ salary. He could have easily bagged it, deciding the whole venture was more trouble than it was worth. But he continued to work towards good health, despite all the setbacks which must have been serious blows to his psyche. Was he a bust? Clearly. But you have to applaud him for never giving in.
Harrell truly wanted to be a Packer. It just wasn’t in the cards.
How the d-line will look now
Harrell’s injury obviously opened a roster spot. The Packers have reportedly brought in Jarius Wynn to fill the void.
Similar to the running back situation, I felt the team should have kept another d-lineman. Ultimately, though, the Packers weren’t hurt by going with just six because, well, Wynn was still available. Still, the team is really thin at the position now because it sounds like Mike Neal (abdomen) isn’t as close to returning as we once thought and could very well miss Sunday’s game.
If that’s the case, the depth on the line consists of Wynn and rookie C.J. Wilson. Yep – that’s it. You can be sure the team will dress all five this week if Neal’s out. Keep in mind, Harrell’s injury cut the depth so low – how low? – that Dom Capers told reporters Monday he was considering going with guard Josh Sitton if Philly ran any goalline formations late in the game. As much as part of me thinks that would have been interesting to see, more of me is absolutely horrified by that prospect.
No action for A.J.
If you were looking for A.J. Hawk on Sunday, you weren’t likely to find him.
That’s because Hawk, for the first time in his pro career, failed to play a single defensive snap in the game. The lack of depth on the d-line forced the defense to go to nickel and dime packages throughout. Hawk does not play in those packages, mainly because he can’t cover, but I digress.
Hawk hasn’t spoken to reporters since the game, so it’s hard to say how he’s feeling. He very well could be furious about it, but it’s hard to see why. He only plays in the base defense. If they didn’t play any base, he wouldn’t play. Simple right?
Besides, Green Bay figures to play more base against Buffalo on Sunday, so Hawk should see plenty of time. Maybe it’s time for him to start making the most of it.
A stat I failed to mention
Lastly, some readers pointed this out in our comments section on my game recap: The Packers committed hardly any penalties Sunday. In fact, they were flagged just twice for 15 yards.
I’m glad they made me aware of it. I mean, I knew they didn’t commit many fouls, but my jaw dropped when I went back and looked at the numbers. For this team to commit that few penalties is nothing short of mind-blowing. Let’s hope it continues, although I probably just jinxed it. Blame me.