Packers reaping healthy benefits from reduced injury rate

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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GREEN BAY – Anyone who has made it to Ray Nitschke Field to watch a Green Bay Packers practice over the past four or five years may have wondered why a trip there this summer has seemed so different.

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry (53) talks with the trainers after he was injured during the game against the Denver Broncos on Aug. 26, 2017 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The stands are the same. The field is the same. That blasted horn signifying a new practice period still goes off a dozen times.

If you paid really close attention, however, you might have noticed that Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Mike Daniels, David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Morgan Burnett, Davante Adams, Aaron Ripkowski, Kenny Clark, Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks and many more have been in attendance.

Every single day.

With training camp officially over after the exhibition finale against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night, the final numbers are in and this will wind up being the least injury-marred camp coach Mike McCarthy has held since the 2014 season, a year in which the team went 12-4 and lost to Seattle in the NFC Championship game.

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Not once did McCarthy have to alter his practice schedule or take off the pads because he didn’t have enough healthy players to remain on course. Unlike in previous years, injuries didn’t wipe out a single position and make the coaches scramble to fill the vacancies.

“As far as the time, we haven't had to cut anything back, so I think that's a reflection of being in sync with (the) strength and conditioning staff, and the health of the team has been pretty good,” McCarthy said. “I feel just from a pure scheduling (standpoint), the targets you create, we've hit those.

“You're looking for your team to get over certain thresholds of how they're starting to play as a group. I definitely feel that we are ascending as we go into the season.”

Training camp isn’t what it used to be now that the collective bargaining unit forbids two-a-day practices and mandates that no pads may be worn the first two days. But those changes didn’t stop McCarthy’s past camps from requiring on-site triage to sort through all the injuries.

McCarthy held 16 practices this year -- the same he held in 2016 and ’14 and one fewer than he did in ’15. Yet the number of injuries that were suffered and the number of practices and games missed were down considerably over a four-year average dating to the ’13 season.

With only the exhibition finale remaining, there were 27 injuries suffered this summer that caused at least one practice or one game to be missed. That’s down from 32 in ’16, 34 in ’15 and 28 in ’13, according to records kept by the Journal Sentinel.

Only 2014 (17) had fewer.

Only 103 practices/games have been missed heading into the Rams game, a far cry from the 143 in ’16, 149 in ’15, 160 in ’13 and in line with the modest 91 in ’14.

(Players who started camp on the physically unable to perform list due to previous injuries are not counted).

What’s more, the caliber of player suffering the injuries was hardly enough to warrant panic. Not a single starter or key backup suffered a season-ending injury and it’s possible that all 22 projected starters will be available when the Packers open the regular season at home against the Seattle Seahawks Sept. 10.

“The things that I was looking for as far as the targets to hit and developing the team fundamentally, I feel we're in really good shape,” McCarthy said.

Two players accounted for nearly half the absences. Rookie Montravius Adams broke his left foot on the second day of practice and will have missed 18 practices/games; cornerback Davon House pulled his hamstring Aug. 5 and missed 12 before returning to practice Tuesday.

After that, the only long-term injury was backup lineman Don Barclay’s ankle sprain (eight).

Come the Seattle game, the player combinations McCarthy, defensive coordinator Dom Capers and special teams coach Ron Zook use will have had plenty of work together.

“I think it’s good that, for the most part, we’ve gotten everybody on the field who’s going to be out there come Week One,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “Every preseason is different as far as which guys are going to play in which games, or what games. We like the workload we’ve gotten in the games, as well as practice.”

For units like the offensive line, the work together has been invaluable. Until right tackle Bryan Bulaga sprained his ankle last Wednesday, not a single starter had missed a practice or game.

Last year, guard T.J. Lang spent the first five practices on PUP, but after that the starting group was together just about every day. When general manager Ted Thompson decided to cut veteran guard Josh Sitton, backup Lane Taylor had not missed a single day of practice and made a relatively seamless transition to being a starter.

The offensive line wound up having one of its best years.

“It’s definitely beneficial,” Taylor said. “There’s nothing like going through that being next to the actual person who’s going to be next to you and really get the game speed and game reps together.

“It’s a good problem to have when everyone is in there. I hope it continues.”


Injuries have affected the way Packers coach Mike McCarthy has prepared the team for the regular season. This year, however, injuries are way down. Here’s a comparison of players with key injuries in 2017 with the previous three camps:


(27 injuries, 103 practices or games missed)

Missed, Name, Key injury

18, DT Montravius Adams, Foot

10, CB Davon House, Hamstring

8, OL, Don Barclay, Ankle

5, CB Damarious Randall, Concussion


(32 injuries, 143 practices or games missed)

Missed, Name, Key injury

9, QB Brett Hundley, Ankle

9, ILB Jake Ryan, Hamstring

8, WR Jeff Janis, Hand

7, S Morgan Burnett, Back

7, OT Kyle Murphy, Concussion

5, NT Kenny Clark, Back

4, ILB Joe Thomas, Calf


(34 injuries, 149 practices or games missed)

Missed, Name, Key injury

10, OT David Bakhtiari, Knee

8, DT Mike Daniels, Ankle

8, OLB Nick Perry, Groin

7, OLB Clay Matthews, Knee/elbow

6, G T.J. Lang, Concussion

6, NT Letroy Guion, Hamstring

5, WR Jordy Nelson, Knee**

5, OG Josh Sitton, Ankle

4, DE Datone Jones, Knee


(17 injuries, 91 practices or games missed)

Missed, Name, Key injury

17, Jared Abbrederis, Knee**

12, OL Don Barclay, Knee**

9 ILB Joe Thomas, Knee

5, S Morgan Burnett, Ankle/oblique

3, WR Jordy Nelson, Knee

* - Does not include final exhibition game.

** - Season-ending injury

Note: Only fully missed practices or games are counted. Players who started camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) are not included.


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