Expect more secondary shuffling for Packers against Seahawks
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers are probably going to have to play mix and match in their secondary Thursday against the Seattle Seahawks.
They had to do it in their 31-12 victory Sunday over the Miami Dolphins after a spate of injuries left them with just three cornerbacks and two safeties. They had started the game with eight healthy defensive backs but were forced to lean on a pair of rookies with minimal game experience.
Coach Mike McCarthy offered no updates on the injured players, but it’s possible he’ll be without three key members of the secondary.
“I don't know, but I’ll say this: I thought the defensive staff and our players did a heck of a job, just the communication and the guys going in and out of the game,” McCarthy said Monday. “Certain personnel groups were up and then they were down and then up for us.
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“And I think (defensive coordinator) Mike (Pettine) got to a point where his call sheet was very limited. But I thought the players and coaches did a great job fighting through that. So, we’ll see how the week goes.”
The Packers went into the game without cornerback Kevin King (hamstring) and then lost safety Kentrell Brice (ankle), cornerback Bashaud Breeland (groin) and cornerback Jaire Alexander (head).
Brice walked through the locker room Monday with a therapeutic boot on his left foot, which would suggest he’s not going to play Thursday. Breeland thought he could have returned if necessary Sunday, but he remains a question mark on a short week.
Alexander cleared the concussion protocol and felt he could have returned to the game if needed.
King’s injury, suffered against New England, was severe enough that he was declared out on the injury report last week, so the chances of him returning this week wouldn’t seem great given the precautions that are taken with hamstring injuries.
McCarthy and Pettine got timely contributions from safety Raven Greene and cornerback Tony Brown, who had played a combined 10 snaps from scrimmage this season, all of them by Brown in the Detroit game. Greene had a sack and pass broken up in 30 snaps and Brown had two tackles and a pass broken up in 16 snaps.
If Brice can’t play, Josh Jones or Greene would be his replacement. Even if it’s Jones, Greene would play when Jones is moved to inside linebacker in the nickel package.
Complicating matters is that Pettine might need Tramon Williams to move from safety back to cornerback if Breeland can’t play. After Alexander and Breeland went out, Williams moved to the slot in the nickel and Jones and Greene played safety.
Pettine should have additional help at safety this week with veteran Ibraheim Campbell, who was inactive after being claimed on waivers from the New York Jets earlier in the week. Campbell played for Pettine in Cleveland and knows the system, so it’s possible he’ll be active for the first time Thursday.
Cornerback Will Redmond, added from the practice squad last week, was inactive Sunday but could be up Thursday.
Also on defense, it seems unlikely that the Packers will have outside linebacker Nick Perry, who injured his knee and did not return to the game. McCarthy did not address Perry’s status, but given he has been battling an ankle injury all season, it would seem unlikely he’d return after three days of rest to play in the Seahawks game.
On offense, McCarthy is awaiting word on whether he’ll get receiver Randall Cobb back from a hamstring pull. With Cobb out, rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling (54) and Equanimeous St. Brown (36) logged a considerable amount of snaps.
One possible addition on offense and special teams is receiver/returner Trevor Davis, who is eligible to come off injured reserve this week. Davis practiced last week and said he prepared as though he was going to play. He said he would be ready if called upon this week even though he’ll have had only five practices since Week 1.
Davis led the team in punt and kickoff returns last year.
Also on offense, backup guard Lucas Patrick is in the concussion protocol and is a question mark for Thursday night.
The Packers listed nine players as “did not participate” on their injury report — which is an estimation because they didn’t practice — including quarterback Aaron Rodgers (knee), linebacker Blake Martinez (knee), Cobb (hamstring), Patrick (concussion), Perry, Brice and Breeland.
Tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga would have been limited with knee injuries. Alexander was not listed after being tested and cleared of a concussion during the game.
A better indication of who might be available Thursday will be Tuesday’s injury report.