The Green Bay Packers And Injuries: What The Hell Is Going On?

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“Oh, man. Not this stuff again.”

Desmond Bishop
Hopefully, Desmond Bishop’s injury is the only big one the Packers suffer

This has likely been the thought of many Cheeseheads as the Green Bay Packers continue to work their way through training camp and the preseason.  One season removed from being decimated by injuries on their way to the Super Bowl XLV title, the Packers once again are looking at infirmary that may have more players in it than are on the practice field.

If there is one team in the league that can get by being devastated by injuries, it is the Packers.  GM Ted Thompson has built one of the deepest rosters in the NFL and the vast majority of the players went through something similar two years ago.

Still, the current rash of injuries has to be more worrisome to Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy for one simple reason: it’s still training camp.  The players aren’t even taking hits at full game speed and yet here the Packers are again in the position of having almost a roster on the injury report.

So far, Desmond Bishop has been the only real catastrophic injury.  His season is in jeopardy with his torn hamstring needing surgery.  Though the rest of the injuries aren’t “season threatening,” they’ve been numerous enough to make McCarthy alter his practice schedule and even cut some practices short.  Worse yet, McCarthy hasn’t really had a chance to see his full number one offense and defense face off against each other.

To quote Lombardi, “What the hell is going on out there?”  For the second time in three years, the Packers are fighting off an injury epidemic albeit in training camp (as of right now at least) and not during the regular season, but there is still a cause for concern.

What is the deal with all the injuries? Let’s look at a few theories in no particular order.

Poor conditioning workouts from the coaches.

The idea has been tossed around by a few that the Packers need to fire their strength and conditioning coaches since the team once again has seen an alarming amount of injuries crop up.  Mark Lovat was promoted to strength and conditioning coordinator in February of 2010 before the start of the Super Bowl season that saw the Packers place 15 players on injured reserve during the season.

With the lockout eliminating the entire offseason program in 2011, players were left to train on their own.  The Packers, despite the loss of the offseason workouts, made it through relatively healthy on their way to a 15-1 record.

Training camp this season barely got underway and players were dropping like flies.  While again, the injuries have not been catastrophic (except for Bishop); they’ve hindered McCarthy’s ability to run decent practices.  He’s admitted that the team isn’t where it needs to be because of the injury situation and this could lead to a rough start to the regular season for the Packers.

When things go wrong over multiple seasons in sports, you start by looking for the common denominator.  This isn’t to say Lovat and his staff are to blame here, but it’s the common denominator here and it may be time for the conditioning staff to feel their seats heat up a little bit.

The players aren’t taking care of themselves

It might sound crazy given how healthy the Packers were coming out of training camp following the lockout last season,  but if you at the NFL on the whole throughout the 2011 regular season injuries were plentiful.

Injuries were so widespread that the league shelved (for the time being) the idea of expanding the regular season to 18 games.  Many blamed the loss of offseason conditioning and minicamps, but in the Packers’ case (in hindsight) there was no need for them.  Remember Aaron Rodgers’ running gag “If only we had those offseason workouts…” as the team was putting up a record amount of points week in and week out?

With that success perhaps came some complacency.  McCarthy has always trusted his players to take care of themselves in the offseason but perhaps the success of the team last season despite no offseason workouts allowed some players to slack off a bit?

Highly doubtful, but you can’t discount the idea.  These are professional players who do this for a living.  Still, you can’t help but wonder a little bit….

It’s just a football thing

When you play a game as violent as football, injuries happen.  That’s common sense a kindergarten student would know.

Could the Packers just be experiencing some bad luck?  It’s the most plausible explanation.  The Packers have been smart with their practice scheduling ever since McCarthy took over in 2006.  While it does seem suspicious the Packers have another injury problem for the second time in three years, they could have just drawn the short straw again.  Is it unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No.

The Packers aren’t going to make excuses for the injuries.  That’s not McCarthy’s style.  Instead they will likely re-adopt the “next man up” mantra that helped propel them to the Super Bowl title two years ago. If it worked then, why shouldn’t it work now?

Regardless, this season that started with so much excitement and optimism has no given way to concern.

Can the Packers weather the injury storm again and return to the Promised Land?

Stay tuned. The answer is yet to come!

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com.

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  • Big T

    Hello out there anybody listening…. pretty sure I called for the strength and conditioning coaches head a long long time ago. TT MM if you want to win multiple superbowls in a row, call me and we will talk…..

    • Kris Burke

      I don’t really want to blame the coaches here, but something stinks. McCarthy can’t keep cutting practices, although today’s went the distance plus.

    • cow42

      how can a strength coach prevent a concussion?

      haven’t like 4 of the players who have missed practice time done so due to concussions?

  • Mr. Bacon

    You cannot blame the Health & Conditioning coach, it’s stupid.

    The fact is this, the league is becoming more advanced. Take for example a old car; it was made with steel and it was slow. You can smash the car and it would hardly dent. Now cars are made of composite materials, fiberglass and reaching higher speeds. They almost shattered instantly.

    The same concept with the NFL. They want more speed, more power. Well the players bodies have to be able to output that much force. Give me negative vote or whatever, but even with the most advanced health and nutrition available that doesn’t stop knee or leg tears from happening.

    The more the game become faster, and stronger in hitting the more injuries will pile up. The entire NFL is having these issues, not just the Packers. Every day it seems someone is going to IR.

    This will be the new normal for the NFL because of what the job demands. Like it or not, because until the human body evolves to become more flexible you will see more players getting injured often.

    • Wagszilla

      “You cannot blame the Health & Conditioning coach, it’s stupid”.

      Why?

      That’s like saying “you can’t blame the special teams coach for the horrendous special teams”.

      You can blame whomever you want, the real interesting question is whether or not that blame is justified.

      Seeing how most of these injuries seem to be pulled hamstrings, etc. that have a lot to do with fatigue and overuse, I think one is very justified in asking questions of this particular coach.

      There are a lot of variables involved, scapegoating one guy probably isn’t wise, but that doesn’t mean one can’t probe more deeply into the matter.

      • Mr. Bacon

        “Seeing how most of these injuries seem to be pulled hamstrings, etc. that have a lot to do with fatigue and overuse, I think one is very justified in asking questions of this particular coach.”

        See you bring up a point in this. Fatigue and Overuse. What if the Overuse is common because that’s how the game has to be played. Football is a tedious sport where coaches want 100% out of there players. Playing hard, and not taking their foot off the petal during the games.

        Sure you can curb more starters playing time in the pre-season, but what about the regular season? We ask of the players to improve their blitzes and pass defense. So we need them to be faster, and by faster is by not focusing on footing and trading for speed and c.o.d. (change of direction).

        Calvin Johnson makes a great cut and Tramon wants to undercut, and in turn tweeks his hamstring sliding on the ground trying to intercept the pass.

        There is only so much the body can take.

  • djbonney138

    Two thoughts I had. 1) Are they being overly cautious because of two years ago? By that I mean anybody with a tiny bruise are they just holding them out for extra safety. 2) Does anyone know where we are injury-wise compared to the other teams?

  • Goatlava

    Besdes bishop, these injuries are precautionary. The practices have been loaded with a huge amount of tackling drills and it has been much more of a violent due to the lack of physicality from last year. With the change in camp mentality, they’re gonna have to ease these players into it. I’ve been to camps past and this year it is a much more noticeable strategy.

    • Kris Burke

      I don’t know if it’s precautionary when McCarthy is cutting practice short immediately after Kuhn goes down. Not to mention he has used words like “unprecedented” to describe the team’s injury situation. Something is up.

  • Oppy

    The strength and conditioning coach in GB (Mark Lovat) has been privileged to learn under the two S&C coaches who are legends in the field, the two guys who really pioneered the position, but bring two different philosophies to the table, Rock Gullickson and Dave “Red Man” Redding.

    Lovat was just voted the NFL’s top Strength and Conditioning coach of the year, btw..

    http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/146687155.html#!page=1&pageSize=10&sort=newestfirst

    • Kris Burke

      It was well deserved last year, with the team’s performance and all given the lockout.

      But something has to be amiss. My theory on Lovat is just one possibility. I’m not saying that’s it for sure.

      • Oppy

        Kris, to be clear, my comments aren’t a direct rebuttal to your piece, so much as a response to Big T’s comments.

        I do think that what we’re seeing is mostly just unfortunate, bad luck. We haven’t seen a number of players all going down with the same type of injury- that might be an indication a training issue was at hand.

        These are all over the board, but nothing unusual. Mostly twists and sprains. concussions. Some speculate the one-a-day, very little contact rules of the new CBA is leaving players physically unprepared for full contact pre season games. might be something to that, but there simply isn’t enough data, and won’t be for years, to make that kind of determination.

        I think we’ve just got a bad case of the injury bug this camp. Hopefully it clears up by season’s start.

  • Oppy

    For the record, Bishop didn’t have a sprain or a pull, he TORE his hamstring, and if you watched the injury happen, you’d be hard pressed to make a case for that happening due to poor conditioning or training. It’s a freak accident, and an ugly one at that.

    Dislocations are hardly a training issue, either. That’s an impact injury or an unnatural movement injury. Davon House *might* have protected himself of that if he was a master yoga practitioner.. Maybe.

    Otherwise, big, heavy guys tweak ankles. RBs tend to stress their knees, and football players take hits to the head and the new concussion policies sideline players that would normally just take 20 minutes to get it together and go back out there (not saying it’s right, but that’s the way it always was).

    It’s a combat sport. If this was the regular season, a lot of these guys who are sidelined would get taped up, clench their teeth, and go on playing. But it’s training camp, and they are being extra cautious since there’s no wins or losses being chalked up yet.

  • Big T

    Simple sollution… all you stat lovers go out there and compare the number of injuries the Packers have had the last three years compared to the rest of the NFL. Game, Set , and Match..

    • Oppy

      You take three years, add them up.

      I say, why not just take last year?

      Last season, the Packers had an really amazingly healthy season.

      What’s different from last season to this season?

      Well, last season and this season are the only two seasons with the same Head S&C coach out of the three years.. That suggests to me that there isn’t enough evidence to state it’s a S&C coaching issue.

      It also suggests stating “Game, set, match” when you’ve presented no real data or information was a tad bit premature.

      BTW, how many injuries DID the Packers rack up over the last three seasons? You’ve got the numbers, right? Are you counting missed starts? Injury report occurrences? Missed practices? Bumps and bruises? Times players had to leave the field?

      Now that we have that sorted out, what is the average number of similar incidences that has occurred to the Packers under different S&C regimes? How about across the NFL?

      Get me that stuff, and then we can talk about game, set, match.

      • Big T

        sorry oppy you have to do the research yourself, you will not believe me if I do it for you…..

        • CSS

          Translation: ‘I can continue talking out of the nether regions of my arse provided nobody ever calls my bluff or confronts my false bravado.’

          • Big T

            Translation: That is cute that you stick up for your sister like that… good for you…

            • CSS

              If your only goal is to pad your already existing record of comments hidden due to low rating than by all means, do go on….

              • Big T

                CSS if your only goal is to state the obvious and follow everyone else lead then by all means, do go on…
                If I say something that you or your cronies don’t agree with (whether right or wrong) and you get your grizzies out of checking dislike then by allmeans, do go on…

  • jersey

    UNPRECEDENTED??? REALY??? SUPERBOWL CHAMPS NY GIANTS lost for season:
    MLB Jonathan Goff – ACL.
    LB Clint Sintim knee
    CB Terrell Thomas – ACL
    Rookie DT Marvin Austin – torn pec
    CB Bruce Johnson
    CB Brian Witherspoon
    CB Bruce Johnson, Achilles tendon
    WR Dominick Hixon – ACL
    WR Ramses Barden – PUP

    DE Osi Umenyiora – Knee
    CB Prince Amukamara – Broken foot
    LB Mathias Kiwanuka – groin strain

    remeber two tight ends tore acl in Superbowl…

  • http://None Bearmeat

    Just bad luck. I’d rather it be now than in the regular season like it was in 10.

  • Ron LC

    I’m thinking two things are a really at the core of the latest rash of injuries. The CBA and it’s limitations and prohibitions on contact drills and the new turf in combination with shoes designed to provide maximum taction. In other words, speed, traction, size and not enough conditioning are the main reason foor the influx of knee, hamstring and thigh injuries.

    Shoulders, concussions, and boken arms are and always have been problems in the NFL. Nothing much can be done about that. The rest, it might be time to look at limiting traction by changing shoe designs and limiting the hybrid turf. Remember whn football was played in the mud. A knee injury was very rare in those days.

    Another issue is players with long histories of injury. Yes, there are really players who are susceptable to injury. And we all know who some of them are in GB.

  • packett

    nice article to think about the reasons…but can’t go anywhere until it is a comparison across sample of other teams in NFL. Until then, you can sniff in direction of coaches…but “something stinks” without checking incidences against other teams is unfair. T think the ‘precautionary measures’ is reasonable explanation…and so doesn’t stink in my opinion. The concussion agenda in NFL forces some organizations (and especially good ones) to get conservative. Applauds from me.

  • GAMER

    correction: Vince Lombardi’s quote was … “What the hell is going on out HERE?” (not there)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocV5bGHdYag

  • little teddy

    Ditto to what Oppy said in post #6!!!
    Having been a jock in ‘contact’ and ‘running’ sports for years, I feel I’m qualified to address ” a – s – t -r – e – t – c – h – i – n – g!!!!!! Stretching is ultra important to practically all of the ligament and muscle groups.
    But stretching is mentally tiring, patience-testing, and boring!!!! And so easy for a jock to quit on – BEFORE sufficient stretching has been accomplished!!~!
    Lack of proper stretching is, to me, highly suspect for creating a physical environment that welcomes injury.
    I not qualified to address weights and ‘strenght conditioning’, per se, so I’ll pass on that.
    But somehow, I hesitate to put all the blame on S&C coaches.