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Injuries Mount for Green Bay

Injuries Mount for Green Bay

The Green Bay Packers – and quarterback Aaron Rodgers in particular - could be in for a rocky midseason if its offensive line continues to be chipped away by mounting injuries as it has since the preseason.

Packers linebacker Nick Perry was only the most recent casualty in the spate of woes endured by the team, suffering a serious (but, perhaps worryingly, unspecified) hand injury that would require surgery to fix in Green Bay’s Sept. 17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Perry reported back to practice with the Packers on Tuesday after undergoing emergency surgery on his hand, although there is still no word from the team’s management when he’ll actually take to the field in a game again. That’s probably a good call, considering that an official Green Bay twitter account photo showed Perry’s hand was wrapped up in enough padding so as to resemble a whack-a-mole mallet.

Perry, along with running back Ty Montgomery, receiver Randall Cobb, defensive tackle Mike Daniels and safety Kentrell Brice, is one of the lucky few to bounce back so quickly. His fellow O-linemen, left tackle David Bakhtiari and right tackle Bryan Bulaga have been out due to injuries since the second week of preseason play, when the Packers narrowly beat the Washington Redskins 21-7. The two men were able to practice in an extremely limited capacity on Tuesday, but head coach Mike McCarthy told the Associated Press that they’d be “hard pressed to play in the game Thursday.”

That means Bakhtiari and Bulaga will likely be absent in the crucial game against the Chicago Bears, who sit just behind the Packers in the NFC North. It might be just as well, as Bulaga missed the first two weeks of the regular season do a pretty severely sprained ankle but started on Sunday against the Bengals, only to re-injure himself in the fourth quarter. As for Bakhtiari, he missed the last two games after pulling his hamstring in Green Bay’s season-opening win against Seattle.

But that’s not all. Green Bay is also probably going to face the Bears on Thursday without the help of seasoned vet Don Barclay, whose preseason ankle injury put him on the injured reserve list, and Jason Spriggs. Packers leadership had eyed Spriggs as the team’s swing tackle after drafting him in the second round last year, but he, like Bakhtiari, injured his hamstring in the game against the Seahawks.

Even Kyle Murphy, the sixth-round pick who up until Sunday night’s game against the Bengals had only taken eight snaps in his rookie season last year, was put on the injured reserve after Tuesday night overtime win over Cincinnati. To his credit, Murphy played gamely, soldiering through OT despite a gimpy foot sustained in the grueling fourth quarter.

All this doesn’t bode well for Thursday night, especially for Rodgers, whose pass-heavy offensive style will come under some intense pressure from the blitz-happy Chicago defense. Protecting Rodgers will always be a crucial concern for Green Bay, as the Packers have thus far relied on his 300-plus yards in total passing in every game in the young season, but with relatively unknown quantities in as O-line backups, it’s anybody’s guess how Thursday night will turn out. Green Bay is expected to start Justin McCray, who was in at center and guard during the preseason, in which the Packers went 4-1, and Adam Pankey, who will be coming off the practice squad.

Even with all the negative connotations surrounding the growing list of injuries, the leading offshore sportsbooks accepting US players are still favoring Green Bay in the matchup against the Bears. Latvia-based Bovada is currently listing Green Bay as the -350 favorite with Chicago listing at +275. The point spread is only 7 ½ points, but with a projected total of 45 ½ the outcome still seems to be largely up in the air.

LegalGamblingUSA thinks the game on Thursday night will show a lot of what Green Bay has in the bag as a team, and particularly whether or not it has the depth to play through injuries to players in key positions. It’s certainly the game to watch on Thursday, and you can bet that sports fans around the world will be tuning in to see who stays and who goes among the NFC North Divisions top three.