GREEN BAY - Another week, another avalanche of injuries for the Green Bay Packers, whose 35-14 win over the Chicago Bears came at a price Thursday at Lambeau Field.
The mini bye could not have come at a better time for coach Mike McCarthy and his players, who began the game without both starting tackles and had to play a third offensive lineman out of position. It only got worse from there, and the faint silver lining is 10 days off before their next game against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 8.
The trauma began early. Starting running back Ty Montgomery suffered broken ribs on the first play from scrimmage, according to a source, and dropped out of the game for good a few snaps later. He gained 5 yards on his first carry and averaged 5.75 yards per rush on four additional carries after breaking his ribs.
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Ultimately, the pain was too significant to continue. Montgomery finished with five carries for 28 yards.
“Next-man-up mentality,” rookie tailback Aaron Jones said.
Without Montgomery, who was not in the locker room after the game, the Packers turned to rookie Jamaal Williams. The fourth-round pick from Brigham Young lasted only a few minutes longer than Montgomery before leaving early in the second quarter with a knee injury. He had four carries for 11 yards and one catch for 2 yards to his name.
Williams had ice bags strapped to the knee and ankle on his left leg after the game and appeared in good spirits. Jones said Williams told him the injury wasn’t serious.
“He said he would be fine,” Jones said.
McCarthy has kept three running backs on their 46-man active roster for each of the first four games, and all of them were called into duty Thursday. The third man up was Jones, who had yet to play from scrimmage this season. Devante Mays, another rookie, was a healthy scratch.
Jones made a nice debut in what amounted to nearly three full quarters of action. He flashed the same burst and elusiveness that appeared frequently near the end of training camp, pacing the offense with 13 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown.
“I’ve been a big fan of his since the beginning,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “I think he’s a very natural runner of the football. He knows what he was doing. There wasn’t any hesitation. He asked me one time to repeat what side he was motioning to, but other than that I think he did a great job.”
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In the second quarter, Jones punctuated a two-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run up the middle after Bears quarterback Mike Glennon threw an interception. And in the third quarter he accounted for 27 of 63 yards on a touchdown drive that ended with a pass from Rodgers to wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who had four receptions for 75 yards and two scores.
“It meant a lot,” Jones said of his first touchdown. “I’ve been dreaming about this for a while, go to sleep at night thinking about that, thinking when your first touchdown is going to come. And it finally came, so I was super happy about it.”
The Packers had a number of additional injuries. Wide receiver Davante Adams left the field on a stretcher after absorbing a brutal hit from linebacker Danny Trevathan. Adams was taken to a local hospital and evaluated for head and neck injuries, plus a potential concussion.
Inside linebacker Joe Thomas left the game with an ankle injury and did not return.
Safety Josh Jones (back) and inside linebacker Blake Martinez (evaluated for a concussion) missed portions of the game but ultimately returned to the field. Martinez did not suffer a concussion and finished the game.
“Very proud of our football team,” McCarthy said. “Any number of things you can talk about. The injuries, the ability to overcome injuries during the course of the game, battling the injuries coming out of Cincinnati. … It’ll be good for us to step away and try to get some of these guys healthy.”