The Green Bay Packers will take a banged-up roster into Sunday’s wild-card game in Washington.
The team’s injury report swelled to a season-high 17 players on Wednesday, nearly a third of Green Bay's 53-man roster. Six players missed practice entirely, including cornerback Sam Shields (concussion), left tackle David Bakhtiari (ankle), left guard Josh Sitton (back) and defensive end Datone Jones (neck).
Shields’ situation is perplexing considering the progress he appeared to make in the concussion protocol last week when he returned to practice in a limited capacity. He was downgraded to doubtful on Saturday and could be in danger of missing his fourth consecutive game if he isn’t cleared by Sunday.
“That's why the protocol is in place,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Every injury is different. Every concussion is different. We're obviously not going to jeopardize Sam or anybody.”
Bakhtiari has missed the last two games with the ankle injury he sustained against Oakland on Dec. 20. Sitton, who’s battled a back issue throughout the season, made his first start at left tackle since high school in Sunday’s 20-13 loss to Minnesota.
If Bakhtiari isn’t cleared by Sunday, McCarthy and his staff will need to decide whether to roll the dice again with Sitton or revert back to either JC Tretter or Don Barclay.
“We’ll let that be determined this week but, I agree, Josh is a guard,” McCarthy said. “We tried something and I thought it was effective for the most part. That’s not the way you intend the game to go. When it does go that way, obviously, the left tackle position is stressed.”
The offensive line has been besieged by injury this season. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle), right guard T.J. Lang (shoulder), center Corey Linsley (ankle) and backup guard Lane Taylor (knee) were all limited on Wednesday. Taylor started at left guard in place of Sitton against the Vikings.
Outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott (quad) and tight end Justin Perillo (hamstring) were still out after missing last two games. Defensive linemen Letroy Guion (foot) and Mike Daniels (hamstring), running back Eddie Lacy (rib), and outside linebackers Mike Neal (hip) and Nick Perry (shoulder) were limited.
Linebackers Clay Matthews (ankle) and Andy Mulumba (knee) were full participants. It’s been a much different year for the Packers, who had only six players on their injury report entering last year’s divisional playoff game against Dallas.
“I think everybody's banged up this late in the season,” Sitton said. “It can be tough. But that's what we signed up for. This is what it's about. You don't expect to be feeling great this late in the season and I don't think most guys are. It's just something you roll with.”
Washington had 10 players on the injury report it submitted Wednesday, but everyone participated.