Packers notes: Injury outlook takes turn for the worse
GREEN BAY - Their injury luck had to expire at some point.
The Green Bay Packers, blessed with a fully healthy roster the past couple games, have a much more tenuous week ahead of them. Coach Mike McCarthy said cornerback Kevin King (hamstring) will be “hard pressed” to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, making it a near certainty that he won’t.
Receiver Geronimo Allison has seen core injury specialist Dr. Williams Meyer in Philadelphia and could need surgery, forcing him to miss a few weeks at least.
“It’s a pretty big injury,” McCarthy said.
Then there is inside linebacker Blake Martinez, whose status for Sunday is uncertain after a scary left ankle sprain that ultimately was much less serious than it could have been.
Martinez was carted to the visitors’ locker room at Gillette Stadium during Sunday night’s third quarter after rolling over his left ankle while chasing New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Martinez said X-rays were negative, and it’s just a regular ankle sprain instead of the dreaded high-ankle sprain.
Initially, he was concerned it could be much worse.
“You definitely don’t know exactly what’s wrong,” Martinez said. “You kind of think of all the possibilities, but after going through it all and seeing everything, I’m optimistic.”
Martinez, somewhat surprisingly, returned to the field for the fourth quarter. That doesn’t mean he’ll be able to play this week, despite his optimism.
McCarthy said Martinez was dealing with “a lot of swelling” Monday. His ankle was wrapped in black athletic tape, limiting its mobility.
Just because Martinez was able to return Sunday night doesn’t mean he can play against the Dolphins now that his ankle has swelled and the adrenaline has waned.
“Definitely, it hurt, and it was scary,” Martinez said. “But once I taped it up and did a bunch of stuff and tried to run around, it started to kind of loosen up and I was getting ready to go.”
If Martinez is unable to play against the Dolphins, it would mean more snaps for reserve linebackers Antonio Morrison and Korey Toomer. Morrison played 31 snaps (44 percent) against the Patriots, while Toomer was inactive.
Likewise, the Packers have a plan in place for Allison’s extended absence. Expect rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling to emerge as a starter in the meantime, and fellow rookie Equanimeous St. Brown will likely see his snaps increase.
Valdes-Scantling, who had 101 yards on three catches Sunday night, has been a revelation this season. The fifth-round pick this spring is averaging 21.1 yards per catch on 17 receptions, the second-best average in the NFL behind only Tampa Bay’s veteran deep threat DeSean Jackson (22.4).
As for King’s absence, the void will be filled by veteran Bashaud Breeland and rookie Josh Jackson. Breeland played 68 snaps (96 percent) against New England, his debut after the Packers signed him Week 4. Jackson played 41 snaps (58 percent).
The safety position wasn’t devoid of bodies before the trade deadline, but with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix dealt to Washington on Tuesday, the Packers were down to three.
When Jermaine Whitehead was ejected Sunday and Kentrell Brice went out with a right ankle sprain, they were down to one: Josh Jones.
With Brice’s status up in the air and Whitehead possibly in the doghouse for his decision to take a swing at Patriots center David Andrews, general manager Brian Gutekunst claimed much-traveled safety Ibraheim Campbell off waivers from the New York Jets.
The Packers will be the 5-11, 208-pound safety’s fifth team.
The Cleveland Browns drafted him in the fourth round in 2015 – defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s last year there as head coach – and he started 11 games over the next three seasons. After being cut by the Browns in 2017, he spent time with Houston, Dallas and the Jets, who cut him Friday.
Campbell has been used mostly as a special teams player of late. He has no career interceptions and just one pass break-up.
Thankful for opportunity
To make room for Campbell, the Packers cut punter Drew Kaser, who was signed Friday to fill in for rookie JK Scott if Scott were unable to play against the Patriots.
Scott’s wife is pregnant and he was set to fly home Saturday or Sunday if the delivery of their baby was imminent.
Kaser said after the game that he knew the signing would probably be for one game but was thankful for the opportunity. San Diego had cut him Oct. 3 and he had been waiting for a call from another team.
The Packers called him Friday, he flew from Orange County, Calif., the same day and practiced with the team Saturday. Scott wound up staying and Kaser was inactive.
“I was honored that they called me,” Kaser said. “They told me what the situation was and I prepared myself like I was going to punt.”
The signing drew a lot of media attention because the Packers didn’t explain why he was added and Kaser is hoping it helped teams remember that he is still out there waiting for an opportunity.
The Packers ranked tied for 13th in most penalties committed after Sunday’s game, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given how many crucial ones they have this season.
They had an offside penalty on the opening kickoff, gave the Patriots a new set of downs when tight end Robert Tonyan roughed the punter and lost Whitehead after his ejection for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“You look at the kickoff, there’s no excuse for that,” McCarthy said of Jones’ gaffe. “I think when you get into alignment, assignment, that’s a process that you work on Day 1.
“I think Tonyan is a young man with new responsibilities but he’ll learn from that. I think the Whitehead penalty was clearly a classic reaction to the first guy. And they catch the second guy. Whatever your feeling is, the severity of the penalty is a whole other topic. But that’s definitely, you can’t have that.
“We need to be better there.”
When the Packers rookie cornerback finally got a chance to exchange words with the future Hall of Fame legend on the field Sunday night, exasperation was the first thing out of his mouth.
“I asked him,” cornerback Jaire Alexander said recounting a in-game conversation with Tom Brady, “why he won’t throw me a pick. And he was like, ‘Oh, not today. Not today. You have plenty of time to get one.’”
No, the Patriots quarterback wasn’t throwing any interceptions Sunday night. A young Packers secondary made Brady work, but ultimately couldn’t do enough to win.
Sometime before the final seconds ticked off, Alexander said he caught up with Brady on the field. Earlier in the week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t hide his praise for the Packers rookie, saying Alexander was high on his draft board this spring and that he’ll be a good pro for a long time.
Brady, apparently, agreed with his coach.
“He told me,” Alexander said, “keep doing what I’m doing. It’s pretty cool to hear that.”