When Tom Crabtree left with a shoulder injury in the first quarter of the Green Bay Packers’ 27-13 win over Cincinnati on Thursday, the team was forced to go with only two healthy tight ends for the remaining three quarters.
Entering Thursday, Crabtree had been the only one of the team’s eight tight ends currently under contract to not suffer an injury or miss any time on the field during training camp.
That changed after the third-year tight end brought in a pass from Aaron Rodgers, but was immediately met with a shoulder from Cincinnati safety Taylor Mays. Mays was flagged for a personal foul, but appeared to throw a clean shoulder-to-shoulder hit on Crabtree.
Either way, the Packers were down to only two tight ends in special-teams aficionado Ryan Taylor and undrafted rookie Brandon Bostick. Starting tight end Jermichael Finley was forced to take a flight home for the birth of his child while D.J. Williams (ankle) and DeMarco Cosby (hamstring) missed the game after suffering injuries at practice this week.
With only two healthy tight ends, it forced Packers coach Mike McCarthy and the rest of his staff to scale down the team’s offensive scheme. It started with the first-team offense in the second quarter and permeated through the third with the backups and No. 2 quarterback Graham Harrell.
“We had a lot of offense that went out the window in the second quarter,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, the offensive plan for the No. 2 was minimized greatly by our tight-ends situation. Then Marc (Tyler) went out with the win. Graham and the second unit, we ran plays that we didn’t practice this week. It’s happened before. It happens in season, but unfortunately for it to happen to the second group is probably not the way you want it to go.”
-- Weston Hodkiewicz, firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.