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January

Packers News: Worthy out for season, Woodson set to return

Packers DL Jerel Worthy

Packers DL Jerel Worthy

Packers defensive end Jerel Worthy suffered a significant knee injury against the Minnesota Vikings and will not play in the postseason.

Worthy left the locker room Sunday wearing a full leg brace and relying on crutches. The extent of his injury has not yet been released.

The Packers selected Worthy with the No. 51 overall pick in last April’s draft and played in 14 games as a rookie. Worthy tied for sixth on the team with 2.5 sacks in the regular season.

Without Worthy in the mix, the Packers will rely on their normal starting three-man line consisting of B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and C.J. Wilson. Mike Neal and rookie Mike Daniels will be the team’s top reserves moving forward. Neal has proved to be effective as a pass rusher, racking up 4.5 sacks this season, while Daniels has been a pleasant surprise as well.

Jordan Miller, a recent call-up from the practice squad rounds out the Packers’ six defensive linemen on the current roster.

Although Worthy will not play again this season, veteran defensive back Charles Woodson appears set to return against the Vikings this week in the playoffs. Woodson was medically cleared to return Jan. 1 after suffering a broken collarbone Oct. 21 against the St. Louis Rams.

Prior to getting injured, Woodson played strong safety in the Packers’ base 3-4 defense and bumped inside to slot cornerback in the team’s nickel formation. But since Woodson has been out, rookie Casey Hayward has risen to the occasion and could be this year’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Now, with Woodson set to return, it’s unlikely the Packers would take Hayward off the field. This could mean Woodson’s role would primarily be the second safety alongside Morgan Burnett, replacing rookie Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings.

Although Woodson isn’t the same, dynamic playmaker he once was, getting him back on the field will certainly be a nice boost for the defense.

Randall Cobb also returned to practice on Tuesday and says he will be “100 percent” for Saturday night’s playoff game against Minnesota. Barring any setbacks, the Packers will have Cobb, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jermichael Finley on the field together for the first time since week one.