With the Packers on a bye week, the team isn’t require to publish an injury report and obviously we won’t know if players would have been able to participate in practice but nevertheless, a rough approximation of the Packers injury report would likely look something like this.
Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers strained his hamstring during the 3rd quarter but finished the game, although his quarterback rating plummeted after the injury, notably with two uncharacteristic interceptions (which may or may not have been his fault as both interceptions came off his wide receivers tipping the ball). It’s interesting to note that one of the negatives that Rodgers had coming up to the NFL draft was his high carriage and his average arm strength. Supposedly the Packers coaching staff redeveloped Rodgers release to feature more power from his legs, which you can see from Rodgers’ rookie year to present day. So while arm injuries to quarterbacks will always make headlines, Rodgers’ leg injury really highlights how important being able to plant and drive the ball with your lower body is to a quarterback. In terms of severity Rodgers was able to play the remainder of the game and showed some mobility, which bodes well for his recovery. Secondly, Rodgers was given time off during the bye week, which likely means he was cleared by the team doctors to be away from the facility, again another positive note. Finally, Rodgers himself has stated that he will not miss any time, especially with two weeks to heal up. Expect Rodgers to start and play at a full capacity after the bye week against the Bears.
TJ Lang: Lang suffered an ankle injury during the first series of the 1st quarter against the Saints and was deemed questionable to return, but ultimately did not play with backup interior linemen Lane Taylor replacing him. At the moment not much is known about Lang’s injury; Mike McCarthy has been the only person to speak of Lang’s injury since the game categorizing it as “not good” but mentioning that he thinks the injury will get better every day. This is pure conjecture, but it appears as if Lang will be staying behind in Green Bay for treatment, which also likely means the injury is rather severe. Lang’s status for week 10 against the Bears is completely up in the air; should he not be able to play, Lane Taylor will likely start at right guard with the small possibility that JC Tretter, who is coming off IR/designated to return, getting a shot as well.
Morgan Burnett: The loss of Burnett sometime during the Panthers game likely will come as a shock to some Packers fans; there was no noticeable play where Burnett came up gimp nor did it seem like the Packers changed what they did defensively in any way. Perhaps this is more due to the emergence of rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who has been steadily growing as the season has gone on to the point that he started and played ever snap on defense against Carolina and New Orleans. Fast forward one more week and Burnett wasn’t able to practice and was inactive against the Saints, who did expose Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with a couple missed tackles. While Burnett isn’t the most sure tackler either, having a full rotation of Clinton-Dix with Burnett and Hyde might have been able to limit some of the damage the Saints inflicted against the Packers run defense. At the moment Burnett’s availability is up in the air; on the optimistic side, Burnett will have had 3 weeks to recover from his injury and Mike McCarthy had also characterized his injury as minor leading up to the Saints game.
Sam Shields: Sam Shields suffered an apparent freak injury to his left knee during the time in between plays during the 3rd quarter of the Dolphins game; even more odd is that Shields initially tried to limp off the field but finally gave up and called for the training staff. Perhaps most unsettling is that there was no apparent cause of the injury; while there isn’t really any film of players in between plays (the live broadcast was showing other things and NFL rewind/All-22 omit these sections), it appears as if Shields was playing fine up until that point. With unusual injuries like theses, it’s very hard to pin-point the exact injury outside of Shields’ comments that he felt a pinching sensation and that the trainers didn’t believe it to be a tear (other possibilities include some sort of patellar tendon injury). Shields was again inactive for the game against the Saints after being inactive against the Panthers and looks like the bleakest in terms of injury recovery. There’s a real possibility that if Shields can’t practice when the Packers get back from their bye that he will be sent to IR.
Datone Jones: Jones injured his ankle against the Vikings in the 2nd quarter after someone rolled over his leg (even Jones isn’t entirely sure what happened); while he was able to get off the field under his own power, he was then carted to the training room and did not return for the rest of the game. Jones did not practice the week afterwards and was ruled inactive against the Dolphins and Panthers and then again against the Saints. This isn’t Jones’ first time with ankle issues as his rookie season was partially derailed during the preseason when fellow first round pick Jonathan Cooper landed on his leg on his first snap as a NFL player. After that Jones’ was in and out of the lineup all season and didn’t appear all that explosive when he was. Jones was interestingly the only player to be ruled out early, which is typically a very bad sign. One possible explanation is that he re-aggravated his injury while trying to practice in a limited fashion and the coaches decided to shut him down completely and give him the extra week plus the bye. At this point, the bye will be a godsend for Jones, and hopefully taking two full weeks off will allow him to recover enough to begin practicing again.
James Starks: Starks injured his ankle midway through the 3rd quarter against the Panthers but was able to limp off the field on his own power; initially the injury didn’t appear that serious since Starks remained on the sideline with his helmet, which almost indicated that he could have played if the score hadn’t been so lop-sided already. Fast forward to the Saints game and Starks was active, but only played 14 snaps, which is about the amount of snaps he played before getting injured against the Panthers. DuJuan Harris also managed to get 2 snaps in, who typically is only used as a kick returner, which also indicates that the team was probably limited the punishment Starks sustained coming back from an injury. Overall, considering he was active and played against the Saints coupled by the fact that he has two weeks to recover likely means that Starks will be a full participant leading up to the Bears game and will likely see a similar number of snaps as Eddie Lacy’s top backup.
Jarrett Boykin: Boykin appears to have injured his groin sometime during the Lions game in week 3 or practice leading up to the Bears game in week 4. Boykin has been held out of practice since then and was inactive against the Bears, Vikings and Dolphins before finally getting the go ahead to play against the Panthers and Saints. I would still expect Boykin to be playing in a limited fashion; Greg Jennings had a similar injury in 2012 and was also in and out of the lineup and practices for weeks before finally admitting defeat and electing to have surgery. Again unfortunately, since this is a core injury, recovery is very slow since there is no way to really not use your groin/abdomen in daily life. Boykin again played limited snaps against the Saints but at this point I’m not sure if this has more to do with Boykin’s injury or the emergence of Davante Adams who looks to have gained Aaron Rodgers’ trust.
Jamari Lattimore: Lattimore suffered a neck injury during the 2nd quarter of the Dolphins game and did not return, however he was able to leave the field under his own power. Luckily Lattimore was active against the Panthers and Saints but apparently was being held on a pitch count with Sam Barrington subbing in for him. It’s interesting that Barrington got the first crack to replace Lattimore and not Brad Jones who seems to have finally and unequivocally lost the starting inside linebacker spot and now may actually be a 3rd stringer. Moving on to the Saints game, the Packers did not change their approach much, Lattimore again appeared to be on a snap count while Barrington was the first man up (really it should be the other way around, Barrington logged 45 snaps to Lattimore’s 24). Either way, it will be interesting to see what the Packers decide to do with Barrington and Lattimore presuming Lattimore is fully healthy after the bye.
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.