Around the NFC North: Week 10

Around the NFC North

A three-way tie at the top of the NFC North sets the tone for a second half showdown between the Bears, Lions and Packers

The back half of the 2013 NFL schedule is officially underway.  In the NFC North, there is currently a three-way tie for first place with the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers all knotted up at 5-3.  The Minnesota Vikings still have only one win to seven losses.

The big news out of the division was the Bears’ 27-20 win over the Packers on Monday night.  Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was hurt early in that game and did not return.  On Monday, it was confirmed that Rodgers has a broken collarbone, but will not require surgery.  He will miss some time and that exact timetable is unknown.  Normally one player’s injury isn’t as noteworthy, but this is one that could very well shift power within the division.

Green Bay appeared to be in the driver’s seat to win the North with upcoming games against the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Detroit Lions.  Now, they just need to find a way to survive and hope that Rodgers misses minimal time.  The Packers aren’t the same team without Rodgers, regardless of who is backing him up.  With Seneca Wallace, their offense didn’t even resemble a shell of itself on Monday night.

Let’s take a look at this week’s games, which features another good divisional matchup between the Lions and Bears.

Washington Redskins (3-5) at Minnesota Vikings (1-7)

This is a tale of two playoff teams from a year ago who are disappointing this year.  The Vikings have managed just one win all season and that was a “home” game in London.  Their own fans still have not enjoyed a win in what will be the last season at Mall of America Field (Metrodome).  This one is the Thursday night matchup and will be Minnesota’s second primetime game in their last three.

During Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the Vikings lost tight end Kyle Rudolph, who will miss time with a broken foot.  Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was already struggling and will now be without one of his favorite targets.  John Carlson will assume the tight end duties, but expect some drop-off there.



Packers Await News On Finley

Jermichael Finley neck injury

Finley’s status remains uncertain after he was taken off the field on a stretcher against the Browns

Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley suffered a neck injury and was taken off the field in a stretcher during Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns at Lambeu Field.

We don’t have any update on Finley’s status other than that the Packers have confirmed that it was a neck injury, he does have feeling in all extremities, and that he remains in a local hospital for more testing.  As of early Monday morning, ESPN is reporting that Finley remains in the intensive care unit at the hospital.

After catching a pass in the second half, Finley was met by Browns safety Tashaun Gipson.  Gipson appeared to hit Finley’s shoulder area with his helmet as Finley was ducking in anticipation of contact.

Immediately after, Finley lay motionless on the field as he was tended to by trainers.  He was carted off the field on a stretcher and the Packers will now await more information on the severity of the injury.

From here the Packers are once again faced with game planning to be without one of their top offensive weapons.  After losing starting receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb last week, the team bumped receiver Jarrett Boykin into the starting lineup and promoted practice squad receiver Myles White.

Both Boykin and White saw time with the team’s offense against Cleveland, but neither come close to replacing what was lost.  Boykin made a few nice catches and seems to improve with increased playing time.  White fumbled an onside kick attempt during the fourth quarter and that would have given the Browns the ball, were it not for a Cleveland penalty to negate the play.

Without Finley, that leaves the Packers with Jordy Nelson, Boykin, White, Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick and Jake Stoneburner at receiver and tight end.  It is possible  that James Jones could be available next week.  He was a game-time decision this week and was held out.  Tight end Ryan Taylor had knee surgery this past week and will be out at least a few more games.

It seems like a weekly theme around here as more and more is needed from the young and inexperienced on the Packers roster.  The team has to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.



Does Hill Promotion Mean More Serious Injury For Starks?

James Starks injury

Is Starks headed for another early exit?

The Green Bay Packers announced on Monday that running back Michael Hill was signed off of the team’s practice squad and to the 53-man roster.  Hill fills the roster spot that was vacated when the Packers released receiver/kick returner Jeremy Ross following the team’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hill spent most of this year’s training camp with the San Diego Chargers and was signed to the Packers practice squad after he was released.

Hill’s spot on the practice squad was filled by wide receiver/kick return specialist Reggie Dunn.  Dunn is an undrafted rookie who reportedly ran a 4.24, 40 at his University of Utah Pro Day back in March.  As a kick returner, Dunn excelled. He returned four of his 10 run backs for touchdowns and averaging just over 50 yards per return last season.

With Hill’s promotion and Dunn’s immediate signing to the practice squad to fill that spot, questions have surfaced as to which of the Packers’ injured running backs may be missing more time.

Eddie Lacy sat out the game in Cincinnati recovering from a concussion he suffered the week prior against the Washington Redskins.  Fullback John Kuhn also missed this last game with a hamstring injury.  During the game against the Bengals, James Starks hurt his knee in the first half and did not return.  Starks was replaced by rookie Johnathan Franklin, who suffered a foot injury, but did return to action.

On Monday it was reported that both Lacy and Franklin participated in practice.  Starks and Kuhn did not participate.  Kuhn’s absence is likely a precaution and given that hamstring injuries are easily aggravated.  It seems most likely that the Packers are preparing to be without Starks for a while.

When asked about his knee following the Bengals game, Starks said the following to Ty Dunne of the Journal-Sentinel:

“More time to heal and get right and get back to doing what I was trying to do,” Starks said on the bye week. “I’m hoping. I prayed about it. So hopefully everything goes how I want it to go. It’s God’s plan. I’ll just make the best of it. . .they’re just making sure everything is good from the swelling and everything. But it feels better than it did.”



Breaking News: Charles Woodson Out 6 Weeks

Charles Woodson Injures collarbone again

Charles Woodson injures collarbone again

Well that was unexpected.

Charles Woodson has a broken collarbone and is expected to miss 6 weeks, as reported by Jay Glazer.  This is apparently the same part of the collarbone that Woodson broke during Super Bowl XLV, and since there is no treatment for breaking a collarbone (expect wearing a harness to properly align the bones and letting it heal naturally) it’s likely that the break this time is due to the previous injury.

Also interesting is that Woodson wasn’t listed on the team’s injury report after the game against the St. Louis Rams and was available for interviews, so presumably he didn’t know he had broken a bone (much like Packers OLB Frank Zombo playing with a broken scapula).  On the positive side this might mean its only a partial break instead of a complete break, which might lower the recovery time.

Luckily it looks like the Packers have enough depth to cover for the loss of Woodson; Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House all look like good up and coming cornerbacks and MD Jennings and Jerron McMillian both would likely play in place of Woodson at safety.  Hopefully the Packers have enough depth in their leadership to lose Woodson for 6 weeks.


Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.




Packers News: Benson could be out eight weeks

Cedric Benson will likely be out at least eight weeks

Cedric Benson will likely be out at least eight weeks

At halftime of Monday night’s game between the Houston Texans and the New York Jets, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Packers running back Cedric Benson could miss eight weeks.

Earlier in the day, head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t reveal much about the severity of the injury to Benson’s foot, but Schefter suggested it’s a Lisfranc injury. Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes suffered a similar injury, which will sideline him for the rest of the season.

The Packers currently have three running backs on their roster in Alex Green, James Starks and Brandon Saine.

It’s much too early to tell whether or not the Packers will bring in a veteran running back to fill Benson’s shoes, but the top available free agents include Tim Hightower, Steve Slaton and Joseph Addai.

McCarthy suggested that Green, Starks and Saine would each get an opportunity to play next Sunday at Houston. We’ll know much more about the Packers’ running back situation following their first full game without Benson.


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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.




Packers Video: Injured Marshall Newhouse Blown Up by Erik Walden

Marshall Newhouse Injured?

Just a quick clip for you all of the last play from scrimmage that Marshall Newhouse played in during the Packers’ Friday night Family Night Scrimmage. Towards the end of this clip, Newhouse is seen jogging to get in position for the next play.  Turns out, he stayed out there for a few Mason Crosby field goal tries (with no rush), and about ten minutes later, was seen walking off the field with the Packers trainers.

Newhouse didn’t appear to be limping at all as he walked off, so I thought I’d go back and see if I could tell where he got injured. After watching the last few series of the first-team offense, I wasn’t able to find any evidence of Newhouse suffering an injury. I did, however, find this interesting clip, which shows Erik Walden doing what he has been highly criticized for not doing, holding the edge against the run and keeping the back inside of him.

Newhouse does not appear to hurt himself on this play, so whatever injury he did incur, he was playing with at the time. All of this makes me hopeful that his injury is not serious. With the Packers perilously thin at the tackle position, let’s hope so. We should have more details after tonight’s practice.




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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.




Packers Will Be “Fine” With Current Backup Quarterbacks

Graham Harrell

Will the Packers be "fine" with Graham Harrell as the backup quarterback?

I’ve had about enough. After reading Football Outsider’s NFC North installment of their “Four Downs” series, it’s finally time to make known this humble blogger’s opinion regarding the backup quarterback situation in Green Bay. In a word, they’ll be “fine.”

For some reason, though, there are a good number of writers out there sounding the alarm. Perhaps they haven’t seen enough of Graham Harrell to put a lot of faith in him. (Of course, no one outside of the coaching staff really has.) Or perhaps they’re still clinging to the annual call for a veteran backup.

Whatever the case, it just needs to stop.

And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve read some of the comments at Football Outsiders and our fellow Packers blog CheeseheadTV, and there seem to be a good number of people who all share the same opinion I do.

Look, I get it. Harrell, despite being in his third year with the team, is unproven. He’s never played a down outside of the preseason, and last year’s lockout kept him from developing in Mike McCarthy’s annual quarterback school. Now with the release of Nick Hill, seventh-round draft pick B.J. Coleman remains as the only other backup.

It’s not unreasonable to be dubious of a two-year practice squad player and a rookie. But it’s just crying wolf to say the Packers’ season might be in jeopardy without a more competent backup.

The truth of the matter is that if Aaron Rodgers goes down for the season, it’s probably over anyway. Even if you were to bring in a veteran quarterback, there’s not going to be anyone who will be able to pick up and run the Packer’s offensive system adequately. And spending a higher draft pick for someone other than B.J. Coleman is no more of a guarantee. Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm are proof enough of that.

There is little chance that anyone could carry the offense through the playoffs and to the Super Bowl other than Rodgers himself. When we get right down to it, isn’t that all that matters?

“But wait!” you might say. “What if having a backup in causes them to miss the playoffs, even if Rodgers returns from an injury?”