13

December

Which Green Bay Packer Benefits Most from Jennings’ Absence?

With Jennings out 2-3 weeks, it is time for the "next man up."

Green Bay Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy announced Monday that wide receiver Greg Jennings has a knee sprain and will miss a couple of weeks. Suffering the knee injury against the Oakland Raiders, Jennings has a great chance to make it back for the playoffs. In his absence, the Packers will rely on Jermichael Finley and other playmakers to fill the void.

No stranger to injuries, the Packers will need to overcome the loss of Jennings in order to close out the regular season with continued momentum. With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the Packers just need to win one game or have the 49ers lose once to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

With Jennings’ absence, plenty of different Packers will get increased opportunities over the next three weeks. The Packers use more formations than most teams in the league, and you can bet that will continue to be the case going forward.

Benefitting most from the success that Jennings has had this season, Jordy Nelson has had his finest year as a pro. Nelson leads the team in yardage with 957 yards on 51 catches. Nelson also has a team-high 10 touchdowns.

With Jennings out of action, Nelson will assuredly become the focus of opposing defenses. It may be more challenging for Nelson to find the same success while  likely facing safety help on many plays.

Donald Driver should see an increase in snaps over the next few weeks. The old man receiver is dying to prove he still has something left in the tank. Driver has played exceptionally well over the last two weeks with a total of eight catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers will need Driver to not only maintain his level of production, but increase it.

James Jones and Randall Cobb will also see their snaps increase on offense. Jones, who has been the forgotten man at times, has put up solid numbers with 479 yards and five touchdowns. The dynamic rookie Cobb, has also shown he has potential to be quite the receiver if given the opportunity.

While the snaps will increase for all the wide receivers, the player that will benefit most from Jennings’ absence is Jermichael Finley. Before Finley was injured early last season, the Packers offense was built around the match-up nightmare tight end. When Finley went down, Jennings stepped up and became the focus. The reverse will take place over the next three weeks.

13

December

Week 15 Packers Stock Report: Smith and Nelson Rising, Newhouse and Finley Falling

Remember when blowout wins were fun? The Packers destroyed the Raiders on Sunday, but a lot of the fun was ruined by various Packers hobbling off the field and the star QB taking too many hits.

This is where we’re at as Packers fans these days. Instead of basking in the glory of a 46-16 win, we’re worrying about the health of the team.

It’s kind of a weird feeling. Whenever I see Aaron Rodgers running around or another player trying to fight off tacklers for a couple extra yards, I start yelling at the TV: “Yeah! Go! Go! Go…..wait a minute! Don’t get hurt! Just go down!”

Don’t get me wrong. I want the Packers to go for 19-0 and I think they will, but damn, it sure makes for some nerve-wrecking moments in these final regular season games. Thankfully, it appears that Greg Jennings will be back for the playoffs.

Time for the stock report. I left Rodgers off this week, mostly because I was sick of always trying to come up with something new to say about how good he is.

Rising

D.J. Smith
Mike McCarthy gave game balls to Smith and fellow backup ILB Robert Francois after Sunday’s win. Smith’s 10 tackles and one interception also earned him a spot in the rising category. Smith has 24 tackles since replacing the injured Desmond Bishop on Thanksgiving.

Jordy Nelson
I’m curious to see how Nelson plays with Jennings on the sideline. With Jennings on the field, Nelson has been on fire, totaling 80 yards or more in three of his last four games. He also has three touchdowns over that span.

Donald Driver
I went to the week four game against the Broncos. Driver got carted to the locker room after getting drilled in the knee in the first half. He could barely walk and he had the towel over his head. It didn’t look good. At halftime, Vic Ketchman appeared on the Lambeau big screen and told us that Driver would not return. Literally 10 seconds later, Driver trotted onto the field and started warming up. He returned, and even caught a TD later in the game. Now Driver is heating up again and it couldn’t come at a better time.

Steady

12

December

Source: Packers Likey To Activate WR Tori Gurley Soon

According to a source, Gurley will be promoted to the Packers' active roster soon.

According to a source close to the situation, the Green Bay Packers are working on promoting rookie receiver Tori Gurley from the practice squad to the active roster in the coming days.

The source, speaking on terms of anonymity, said that the Packers are working on a deal to pay him money in the range of an active player. Combined with Greg Jennings’ injury that will keep him out 2-3 weeks, there’s a good chance that the Packers could activate Gurley sometime before Green Bay takes on the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.

Gurley had an extended talk with both quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coaching staff on Monday and came away from the meetings encouraged about the upcoming situation, the source said. That would help explain Gurley’s tweet about an hour before McCarthy’s press conference on Monday that said “God works in mysterious ways ;- ) Go Pack Go.”

The source also said that another team was in talks to claim Gurley off the Packers practice squad. The team wasn’t named, but that likely helped give Gurley even more leverage to get onto the active roster.

To make room for Gurley, it is possible that the Packers will put Vic So’oto, a rookie linebacker who has dealt with a recurring back issue throughout the season, on season-ending injured reserve. Chad Clifton is another option for IR, but McCarthy said on Monday that they still have hope for his return this season. Either way, the Packers will have to trim their current roster by one if they plan to make room for Gurley.

An undrafted free agent from South Carolina, Gurley has impressed coaches and fellow players throughout the season. When asked earlier in the year, many of the veteran players had nothing but glowing reviews for Gurley and his play-making ability. Gurley made a name for himself on the punt unit during the preseason, blocking several kicks.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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12

December

McCarthy: Packers WR Greg Jennings Injury to Keep Him Out 2-3 Weeks

Greg Jennings Thumbs Up

Packers coach Mike McCarthy announced that Greg Jennings would be out 2-3 weeks.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy announced Monday that injured receiver Greg Jennings has a knee sprain and will be out “a couple of weeks,” but that the team is confident they’ll have their No. 1 receiver in time for the postseason.

When pressed further on the length of “a couple weeks,” McCarthy said that it should be 2-3 weeks. While that will likely mean the rest of the regular season, Jennings should almost certainly be back in time for the Packers’ first playoff game, which will take place in Green Bay during the divisional round on either  Jan. 11 or 12.

The Packers clinched a first-round bye with their 46-16 win over the Raiders on Sunday.

McCarthy said “it’s safe to say” that Jennings will be back for the playoffs.

Jennings was hurt on a short reception in the second half of Sunday’s game and limped off in obvious pain. After being examined on the sidelines, Jennings was carted off to the Packers’ locker room. Replays showed very little in terms of when the injury occurred, but it’s assumed that either a slight hitch during Jennings’ initial cut or the impact of his left knee with the ground created the sprain.

Immediately following the injury, several media outlets speculated that Jennings had torn his MCL and could potentially be done for the season. Based on the timeline of 2-to-3 weeks, it’s safe to say that Jennings has somewhere between a Grade I and II tear of his MCL. No surgery is required for the injury and Jennings can begin rehab once the swelling subsides.

Jennings leads the Packers with 67 catches and is second on the team with 949 yards and nine touchdowns. With their No. 1 receiver on the shelf, other receivers will need to step into a bigger role.

“Greg is a big weapon for us and will be missed,” McCarthy said. “But we feel that we have enough moving forward until he returns.”

In other injury news, McCarthy said that left tackle Chad Clifton has a chance to return this season. If he can, he’ll practice next week or the week of the Lions’ game. The Packers continue to push back his return date, so it’s unsure whether or not that’s really the case.

11

December

Packers vs. Raiders – Unfiltered Game Day Commentary and First Impressions: Green Bay 46, Oakland 16

Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders are trying to stay in the playoff picture. The Packers are trying to clinch a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the postseason.

Here we go.

Packers inactives: QB Graham Harrell, CB Davon House, RB James Starks, LB Desmond Bishop, G Josh Sitton, T Chad Clifton.

AJ Hawk is active, but not starting. No matter because D.J. Smith picks off Carson Palmer on the Raiders first possession. Smith was just kind of hanging out, enjoying the vibe at Lambeau Field, and Palmer threw it right to him.

Two plays later, Ryan Grant goes for a 47-yard TD. McCarthy needs to call more of those stretch types of runs for Grant. He’s still decent when he can pick his way through a defense, find a hole, and accelerate. He’s no longer effective just crashing into the line up the middle.

10 yards on a fullback end-around? C’mon defense.

A little more air on that bomb to Jennings and this game would be 14-0.

No matter, because Rodgers hits Ryan Taylor for a TD a few minutes later. Taylor needs to work a bit on his Lambeau Leap, however.

Eighteen different players have scored TDs this season.

Wow, if we were frustrated by the Packers drops last week, imagine how Raiders fans feel today.

Sherrod comes in at left tackle for a series and gets absolutely run over on a 3rd down pass. Mason Crosby FG makes it 17-0.

The Raiders put 12 defenders on the field but still can’t stop a Rodgers to Jordy Nelson touchdown. 24-0 good guys. Rodgers ties Brett Favre’s single-season record for TD passes at 39.

There’s really not much to say about this game. Domination from the Packers. The defense is tackling well and generating a bit of a pass rush. Lets see if the defense keeps it up.

I guess it’s hard for the defense not to look good when Palmer is throwing it right to your players. Woodson with the pick.

Oh man, Rodgers is sacked from behind by Aaron Curry and “fumbles.” Nasty looking hit there, Rodgers easily could’ve been hurt. The fumble call is overturned after a three hour replay review.

21

November

McCarthy: Packers RB James Starks Could Play Thursday

Packers RB James Starks may still be play Thursday in Detroit.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that running back James Starks will likely practice Tuesday and could even play on Thursday in Detroit if all goes well during the week.

Starks was hurt during the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 35-26 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. He was bent back in the middle of a pile and needed assistance getting off the field. After the game, McCarthy called the injury a “knee sprain,” which hasn’t exactly been the kindest of injury assessments recently.

On Monday, the somber mood seemed to change. McCarthy called Starks “sore” but seemed optimistic that his second-year running back would test out the knee Tuesday at practice. If Starks passes the tests during the week, McCarthy said he’s “hopeful” that Starks would play against the Lions on Thanksgiving.

Other highlights from McCarthy’s Monday press conference:

  • Receiver Greg Jennings has a knee bruise but should practice on Tuesday. All indications pointed to him being ready for Thursday.
  • McCarthy didn’t seem worried about the schedule, and he also pointed out that Detroit is now on the exact same schedule. He feels good about where the Packers are at health-wise, too.
  • Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel asked a good question about the Lions’ defensive line and their ability to win upfront against the Packers late last season. McCarthy said that the Lions’ play in the trenches was one of the major factors in their win in December of 2010. He also said that the Packers have focused mostly on tape from this season because the Lions have different players upfront, including rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
  • McCarthy said that mental preparation was the most important part of this week. The Packers will spend limited time on the practice field to ensure the physical aspect of the game is intact. McCarthy said he won’t lose this game on Tuesday and Wednesday with grueling practices.
  • McCarthy wasn’t worried about the punt protection issues that Tampa Bay may have exposed on Sunday. He said the special teams had an up and down day but that everything was correctable.
  • He seemed very impressed with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. He noted that the most important stat for a young quarterback is games played, and the experience is clearly starting to pay off. Stafford is having “a heck of a year.”