Despite what you might think of his ability, Joe Thomas has played a lot in the middle of the Green Bay Packers’ defense lately. He’s coming off a team-leading 10 tackle day against the Minnesota Vikings. And now his availability for Sunday’s showdown in Motown is in question.
Thomas came out of the Vikings game healthy, but appears to have injured his back practice this week. He was not listed on the injury report on Wednesday, but was listed as limited on Thursday and Friday with a back injury. He is officially listed as questionable for Detroit.
That calls the Packers’ inside linebacker depth into question once again.
Jake Ryan has been healthy and playing a substantial role since week 13. Although he returned after a three-game absence in week 15, Blake Martinez is still dealing with the limitations of a knee injury and has really only been used on special teams. It’s unclear if he would even be effective if given a large role on defense.
Since releasing Carl Bradford, the Packers technically only have three inside linebackers on the active roster.
If Thomas sits, we expect to see either a heavy dose of Clay Matthews on the inside (and more Julius Peppers outside) or a heavy dose of safety Morgan Burnett down near the line. The latter scenario would mean an increased role for Kentrell Brice at safety.
A Thomas scratch could also mean more of Ryan in coverage, which is an area he does not excel in.
The only thing our defense does well is apply some pressure to the QB and cover well in the red zone leading to FGs instead of TDs. Year after year of bend don’t break.