Thursday, October 17, 2013

Packer Injuries Have Created A Mess At Receiver and Linebacker

My head is spinning trying to follow all the injuries at receiver and linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. While WR James Jones, LB Mike Neal and LB Brad Jones might play this weekend and provide stability to their positions, I'm going to take a look at the worst case scenario.

Linebacker: Without Neal (bruised shoulder) and Jones, the Packers might be down to five healthy linebackers. Rookie LBs Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer would start outside and LB Jamari Lattimore would start inside with A.J. Hawk. The only backup is rookie ILB Sam Barrington. We all know what Hawk brings (or doesn't bring) to the field. Lattimore looked good as Jones's replacement against the Ravens. While I wouldn't expect much from either Mulumba or Palmer, neither would be a disaster. Lattimore used to play outside, so he could move there if necessary. What they could do is spend more time in the nickel, the Browns' run offense is ranked 25th overall and they're getting little from RB Willis McGahee, so going small probably wouldn't hurt them. The game plan might need to be adjusted, but I think they can manage.

Tight End: TE Ryan Taylor surprised everyone by needing a surgery on his knee and he'll be out a few weeks. The Packers signed TE Jake Stoneburner off the practice squad to replace him, but maybe TE Brandon Bostick will get the first shot at replacing Taylor on special teams and as an extra blocker on offense. Unfortunately, to open a spot for Stoneburner, the Packers had to place backup OL Greg Van Roten on IR and end his season. Now I have no idea who would play center if something happened to C Evan Dietrich-Smith.

Receiver: At first I wanted them to sign practice squad WR Charles Johnson to the 53-man roster, but the Browns signed him last Saturday. However, he wouldn't have been available anyway because he actually has a torn ACL. Plan B was rookie WR Tavarres King but the Broncos made a roster move to keep him on their 53-man roster. Onto Plan C; sign rookie WR Myles White from the practice squad.

There really isn't much else they can do at this point. The good news is that White's been with the team on-and-off since originally signing with the Packers after the draft back in May, so he knows the offense and he's worked with QB Aaron Rodgers this offseason. The bad news is that he dropped a few too many passes this preseason, which is why he ended up on the practice squad in the first place. The exact same can be said for rookie WR Tyrone Walker, who was signed to the practice squad to replace White. Walker was released a couple of bad preseason games, but earlier this summer he was one of the stars of training camp.

Still, this is not a good situation, but it's probably the best they can do. The list of veteran free agents is not impressive and a few of those guys have already signed elsewhere. Any three receiver sets would have to involve White (if Jones can't play) and WR Jarrett Boykin is already enough of a question mark. They could go bigger and see if TE Jermichael Finley can create a mismatch against a smaller corner while giving TE Andrew Quarless more playing time. I wouldn't be surprised to see them do a little of both.

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