It's official. The Green Bay Packers will be without Charles Woodson for approximately six weeks after sustaining a broken collarbone during Sunday's 30-20 win over St. Louis.
During his Monday afternoon news conference, Packers coach Mike McCarthy confirmed reports the 36-year-old defensive back would be sidelined with the injury after suffering it in the final moments of Sunday’s game.
The loss of Woodson sends a ripple effect through the entire Packers’ secondary with Woodson playing safety in the team’s base packages and a slot cornerback in sub-packages. That means increased roles for M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian and rookie cornerback Casey Hayward.
Furthermore, it also robs the defense of its leader for the foreseeable future.
"There’ll have to be some other guys pick up the leadership role," Capers said. "Obviously, Charles is a leader. He’s been a very productive guy on the field and that’s the way you develop into a leader. I think there’s an awful lot of respect for him. Now we’ve got to have some other guys step up and produce."
The injury happened on third-and-10 of St. Louis’ second-to-last drive. Woodson was trying to defend a short pass to Brandon Gibson, but fell on his left shoulder awkwardly, breaking the same collarbone he did in Super Bowl XLV.
Woodson was still able to return in time for the start of the 2011 season and has played in 100 of a possible 103 games since signing with the Packers in 2006. The one game he didn't play last season was for veterans' rest in a meaningless regular-season finale.
Both Capers and Packers coach Mike McCarthy remained hopeful Woodson would play again this season, but it adds to an increasingly bagged up defensive unit. Linebackers Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith have already been lost for the season while starting defensive tackle B.J. Raji, linebacker Nick Perry and cornerback Sam Shields are still sidelined with their own ailments.
“Well, I guess we've covered every position now,” quipped Capers said. “Obviously, Charles is a guy that’s played every game since I’ve been here. He got hurt in the Super Bowl and we didn’t have him in the second half of the Super Bowl. He’s obviously an integral part of everything we do. But as we’ve talked about all year, you know on any given play you can lose any player. We’ve got to have guys step up there now and we've been playing different combinations, so Morgan Burnett can play either strong or free. M.D. Jennings, we thought has made progress and stepped up and Jerron McMillian has played some there for us. We’ll take a good look at it this week in practice and see how it sorts itself out.”