When Green Bay Packers defensive end Jerel Worthy needed to be carted off the field following a knee injury during the loss to the Minnesota Vikings, fans knew it wasn’t going to be good. Coach Mike McCarthy confirmed the worst Wednesday, stating that Worthy would miss the remainder of the season, but declining to provide any more information on the injury.
The Packers just can’t seem to get a healthy roster. It seemed typical of the season that the day they get back their veteran safety Charles Woodson, who has missed nine games with a broken collarbone, they declared yet another player’s season over.
The Packers have been thin on the defensive line all season, with B.J. Raji, C.J. Wilson, Mike Neal, and Mike Daniels all missing time. Even the stalwart Ryan Pickett, who has not missed a game, has battled through different injuries this season.
With Worthy out, that line gets thinner. Though not a starter, Worthy played significant time behind Wilson. The depth chart lists their only backup as Jordan Miller, a practice squad player who was signed two months ago because of concerns about injuries along the line.
Green Bay has had to deal with injuries all season, having already lost linebackers Desmond Bishop, D.J. Smith and Nick Perry, as well as their starting running back Cedric Benson, backup running back Brandon Saine, and right tackle Bryan Bulaga for the year. Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb, James Starks, Davon House, Sam Shields and Clay Matthews have also all missed games at different times throughout the season. Injuries are a part of football for all teams, but this just feels ridiculous. If there were time, I would hold a pity party for the Packers, but it’s a short week until their first playoff game. The defensive line, like the rest of the team has all season long, will have step up and not let injuries become an excuse.
Considering how much trouble this group has had against the run – and particularly against Adrian Peterson and the Vikings – the loss of Worthy is a big blow. Though just a rookie, Worthy has played well. With him sidelined, it will likely mean higher snap counts for the big guys, who will already be tired out from trying to stop Peterson.
Minnesota has a very respectable offensive line that performs well not only blocking for Peterson but in protecting quarterback Christian Ponder. Conversely, the Green Bay defensive line has not been able to provide consistent pressure. Saturday night’s game will be a real test for this unit, who will have to find a way to slow down the Minnesota offense, even while shorthanded.