Mike McCarthy gave the Green Bay Packer players the whole week off last week to mend mentally and physically from the rigors of nine games in the National Football League. Consequently, it has been a quiet week in Titletown with no practices and few interviews.
In one of the few developments, tight end Andrew Quarless was elevated from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to the active squad. Quarless has been recovering from a serious knee injury suffered last season. He may be able to contribute as the weather turns cold when the Packers might need to run the ball more. Quarless was developing into the Packers’ best-blocking tight end before he got hurt. To make room for Quarless on the roster, the Packers put this year’s first-round draft pick, Nick Perry, on Injured Reserve. Perry has been slowed by injuries throughout his abbreviated initial season and hasn’t contributed what the Packers wanted when they selected him so high in the draft.
Once again this year the injury bug has bitten the Packers hard. Information has been scarce during the bye week, so it is hard to judge who will or who won’t be able to contribute when the Packers resume their season Sunday in Detroit. Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson and Cedric Benson will not be ready for at least several more weeks. Other core players like Jordy Nelson, John Kuhn, Sam Shields and Clay Matthews III were nursing seemingly less serious injuries so Cheeseheads will hope for the best for those guys.
Another core player, right tackle Bryan Bulaga, has been placed on Injured Reserve so he is done for the season. The Packers elevated last year’s number one draft pick, Derek Sherrod, off the PUP list which will allow him to practice with the team for a couple weeks before the Packers need to make a decision about his future. Sherrod, a tackle who might potentially contribute, is recovering from a broken leg suffered last year. He didn’t show much last year before he got hurt, but it will be interesting to see what he can bring to the table. In the meantime, T. J. Lang moves to right tackle and Evan Dietrich-Smith fills Lang’s old spot at left guard.
So the Packers head to Detroit Sunday for a date with the Lions. The Lions have had an up-and-down year so far. After being the doormat of the league for a decade or so the Lions finally got some talent put together and now have a respectable team. Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in the league and Matthew Stafford, when healthy, is capable of getting the ball to him. Defensively, the Lions are stout up front but the secondary is ragtag. The Lions’ special teams have been horrendous this year.
On paper, it would seem that Aaron Rodgers and Company could have a big day throwing the pigskin and Randall Cobb could have some special team return opportunities. Defensively teams have had success limiting Calvin Johnson’s “big play” opportunities this year by deploying two deep safeties, the so-called “Tampa 2.” The Packers might copy that scheme to some degree. Divisional games are doubly important. Last year the Packers ran the table on their Central Division rivals. We shall see if they can repeat that.
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