A Green Bay Packers’ defense that has lost its share of difference-makers to injury this season appears to finally be on the verge of getting one back.
During his Monday news conference, Packers coach Mike McCarthy indicated veteran defensive back Charles Woodson is probably a week away from returning to the field after suffering a broken collarbone in the final moments of the Packers’ 30-20 win over St. Louis on Oct. 21.
Woodson, who turned 36 in October, was playing as a safety in the Packers’ 3-4 defense and switching to a slot cornerback in the team’s sub-packages at the time of his injury, which has sidelined him for the expected six-week window.
If Woodson is truly a week away, that puts him on track to return when the Packers travel to face Chicago on Dec. 16 in a game with many potential NFC North Division and playoff ramifications.
In the Packers' last game against the Bears - a 23-10 win on Sept. 13 - Woodson grabbed his only interception of the season. That type of playmaking is something a defense has missed with Woodson, Clay Matthews, Desmond Bishop and Sam Shields.
“Charles is probably, I would think maybe next week would be my guess there,” McCarthy said. “If you ask Charles, he’s probably pushing to play this week. There’s some more testing that you have to do to make sure he’s cleared. He’s not been cleared yet.”
In seven games before the injury, Woodson had 38 tackles, 1½ sacks, five pass deflections and his pick. In his absence, the team has seen rookie cornerback Casey Hayward play exceeding well in Woodson’s spot in the slot while M.D. Jennings has primarily replaced him in the base defense.
The break occurred in the same collarbone Woodson broke during Super XLV nearly two years ago, so the Packers will need to see where he’s at when he returns to the field.
However, Woodson's possible impact and overall leadership on defense could be a possible strength moving down the final stretch of the season.
“I really don’t know. You go off of whatever our medical people say,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “The first step will be to get him back on the practice field and see where he is. He’s been coming out and running some routes on the service team and doing those types of things, so I don’t think there’s any problem with his movement and that, it’s just when they feel it’s time that he can go ahead and take some blows on that shoulder.”
The prognosis wasn’t as clear for the team’s other playmaker, outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who has missed the last three games because of a hamstring injury.
McCarthy knew Matthews was working out at the Hutson Center today, but hadn’t received the results of that at the time he was speaking to the media.