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Packers Will Face A Wounded Animal on Saturday

Ever since New Orleans opened the door by losing to the Eagles in Week 14, the Packers have latched onto that first playoff seed like an enraged bulldog.

Most of the benefits of the Pack’s top playoffs seeding are obvious: players get an extra week to rest, recharge, and not have to travel; the team gets home field advantage through the conference championship game; the coaches get an extra week to formulate strategy regarding the likely opponent. But there’s another, and perhaps less-mentioned advantage.

I would hazard to guess than in a typical NFL game from two to four players on each side suffer an injury that will keep them from playing for more than one week. One or two of these players will likely miss multiple games. Another handful of guys will likely play at less than full strength, or for fewer minutes than anticipated, in the following game. As the long season winds down, and the intensities of the games increase, the injury factor generally becomes even more pronounced.

In theory, therefore, Green Bay should be healthier and have a more nearly full complement of players than will the Los Angeles Rams. I think getting that #1 seed will prove to be a tremendous advantage for the home team on Saturday.

Packers’ Medical Outlook

How does this work out in practice? Going into the game against the Bears, David Bakhtiari was of course out and remains so. The only other player listed as out on the last injury report before the Bears was Kingsley Keke – he will almost surely be ready to go since he will have had two weeks to recover from a concussion. The Pack had some others who were dinged up going into the Chicago game, but were able to play: Za’Darius Smith had ankle and thumb ailments; Equanimeous St. Brown had a knee (as they say); Kevin King had a groin; Allen Lazard is still playing through his core injury; finally, Rick Wagner played every defensive snap despite having a bad knee.

Unless there were new injuries incurred in the course of the Bears game (I’m not sure), the Packers should have almost everyone on the roster ready to go.

Rams’ Medical Outlook

As for the Rams, wouldn’t they have loved to have last week off to physically get better, and avoid more injuries? Their QB had surgery on the thumb of his throwing hand just two weeks ago – three pins were inserted. Then his backup, John Wolford, left the game on Saturday with what appeared to be a serious neck injury.

Goff was forced to take his place. Given his condition, he did quite well, but it probably didn’t help his healing process. Sports writer Adam Shefter has tweeted that both QBs are “banged up, but in words of one source both ‘should be OK.’ ” I’ll believe it when I see it.

I suspect that the Rams will have to activate their secret weapon, Blake Bortles, against the Packers.

A long thread about the Rams’ injury situation, compiled by a “FanSided journalist” named Brent Stuter [here] was posted on Sunday. He comments on new injuries to WR Cooper Kupp, DL Aaron Donald, OLB Leonard Floyd, RB Cam Akers, and left Guard David Edwards. That list includes nearly every top player on the Rams’ roster.

Wide receiver Kupp clutched at his knee and limped off the field in the game’s closing minutes. Stuter, however, assures us: “But make no mistake, Kupp will play (against the Packers). And he will be a huge factor in the Rams playoff run.”

Stuter next describes how midway through the third quarter Aaron Donald left the field clutching at his side and ribs, and was escorted to the locker room. He claims initial reports showed no rib injury but that further diagnostic imagery should determine if there is any cartilage damage to Donald’s ribs. According to Stuter, this “could mean wearing protective gear and a pain-killing shot to allow Donald to go next week.”

Next, Stuter tells us that OLB Leonard Floyd took a shot to the head that resulted in a potential concussion at a critical point in the game. It required Floyd to leave the field and be evaluated for a concussion.

Offensive left guard David Edwards also left the game early after aggravating an ankle injury – he was replaced by Bobby Evans.

Stuter says that the “final straw” occurred when RB Cam Akers left in the latter part of the game with a reported high ankle sprain. He came back quickly, however, and proved to be the star of the game: Akers finished with 28 rushes for 131 yards and a touchdown, and he caught two passes for another 45 yards.

Ram fan Stuter sums up his optimistic medical opinions by concluding: “the Rams have emerged with some dings and dents, but no major injuries from the game.” He then goes even further: “(S)o far, the Rams not only appear to be getting everyone back but could be even healthier with another week of recuperation to Goff’s thumb. The Rams will match up well in round two as well. . .Go Rams.”

As the week progresses, we’ll see whether Stuter’s rosy forecast turns out to be accurate. Though I doubt it, Green Bay should still keep in mind the maxim that “a wounded animal is at his most dangerous.”

Aaron Rodgers with Matt LaFleur on the sideline

Sep 20, 2020; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) talks with head coach Matt LaFleur during the third quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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26 Comments

  1. Robster January 11, 2021

    Oops, Rick Wagner will return to playing offense on Saturday.

    Reply
    1. PF4L January 11, 2021

      That’s twice :)
      I get that same brain freeze with Lamar Jackson’s name, i almost always get it wrong.

      Reply
  2. Howard January 11, 2021

    Howard December 31, 2020
    That news sucks. I don’t know who plays left tackle, but I try to sign Jared Veldheer off the Colts practice squad as soon as possible. Veldheer will provide insurance at right tackle if needed. Veldheer is also familiar with the O-line coaches and system.
    .
    Guess who the Packers just signed…Veldheer.

    Reply
  3. stiggy January 11, 2021

    I said this in a prior thread but the rams defense is a match up nightmare for the packers.
    *
    Donald can absolutely wreck the middle and if there is one way to make Rodgers (or any qb) struggle it is collapsing the pocket.
    *
    The one area where Donald is not super human is when teams run straight at him. I’m sure the packers coaches have also taken notice of this…but inexperience aside…this is a game they would benefit from aj Dillon pounding the middle early and often…especially with donalds rib injury.
    *
    The passing game will be challenged to say the least.
    *
    Adams has proclaimed himself the best wr in the nfl…and this Sunday he will get an opportunity to prove it by facing one Jalen Ramsey…a player on the short list of contenders for best corner back in the league.
    *
    The rest of the pass catchers seemingly disappear when forced to win one on one’s and what is important to note is unless proven otherwise the rams aren’t going to scheme against Adams past putting Ramsey on him.
    *
    The rams are having some qb issues due to injuries and that is what..imo tips the scale in this match-up. The packers need to contain the run and not let kupp..woods…Everett gash them on 6 yard routes all game.
    *
    I don’t think the packers score over 23 this game…and it will be won or lost by the defense.
    *
    If the special teams has another major fuck up (which is likely) this team could be going home early.

    Reply
    1. KzooPackFan January 12, 2021

      If only we had an All Pro center and a Pro Bowl caliber left guard to deal with this beast Aaron Donald…

      Reply
      1. dale baggerley January 12, 2021

        I know, right?…oh wait…snap

        Reply
      2. Stiggy January 12, 2021

        Your sarcasm is appreciated. However they could always line him up over Lucas Patrick, and All pro status or not…Linsley isnt 1 on 1 blocking him…noone in the NFL is successful in that endeavor.

        Reply
        1. KzooPackFan January 13, 2021

          All in good fun. Aaron Donald is a certifiable force. Best in the game at his position and will be a definite challenge. But I think we have a pretty good line and scheme that will hopefully prevent him from wrecking us.

          Reply
  4. Ferris January 12, 2021

    If only Green Bay had treated McCarthy like the Eagles just treated Pederson. Thanks for the ring…but now you suck….bye.
    What’s the over under on McCarthy and his years in Dallas. Over or under 2 more years?

    Reply
  5. Mick January 12, 2021

    Acquiring Valdheer is huge right now. Wagner still has a gimpy knee, and Valdheer has experience in playing both RT and LT, if needed. Donald is a bull in the china shop, you can’t stop him. Double teaming him will be risky as it opens the door for guys like Floyd and Brockers to reek havoc on the passing game. Running up the gut at Donald might be the plan, cause Donald is so aggressive, he can over run the play. Also, mother nature might play a big role (snow); in how the schemes are set up. I share Stiggys’ concern about the STs’. Mistakes in these kinds of games are magnified and are huge momentum swingers. I have to suck it up and give Gute some credit for acquiring Valdheer, Austin and Snacks to help fortify some needs on this team. Sleepy Ted T, would not have done that, instead he would have reached into his practice squad to find inexperienced replacements and let those players hanging out to dry. We’ll see if the additions pay dividends.

    Reply
    1. Howard January 12, 2021

      Mick, I’m not sold on Austin because throughout his career he has put the ball on the ground to often, as he proved against the bears. Harrison and Veldheer were needed. I’m positive Harrison will see more snaps this week. Harrison has already prepped for the Rams twice this year and played against them once with about 20 snaps.
      .
      I thought that Veldheer would be a good insurance policy at right tackle, but when I watched the Colts Bills playoff game Veldheer took every snap at left tackle and did just fine. Granted Rivers can get rid of the ball quick and Addison and Esponza who are the Bills right DEs may not be the best competition.

      Reply
      1. Mick January 12, 2021

        Yea, I’m not sold on Austin either. I’m sure putting the ball on the ground is the single most important reason he has moved around the league. He teases with his speed, and every now and then he makes a great play. But, those fumbles can’t be ignored.

        Reply
    2. Robster January 12, 2021

      Acquiring Jared Veldheer is astounding! I guess because he was not put on the Cardinals’ 53-man roster, and instead was “elevated” from the COVID practice squad, that technicality allowed the Packers to sign him and have him immediately available. Jared started for the Cardinals last weekend in their loss to the Bills. He is now one snap away from becoming the first player in league history to play games for two teams in the same postseason. More importantly, he’s fully in shape, and he’s also been with the Packers both in 2019 and earlier this season. Wow!

      Reply
      1. SCPKRBKR January 13, 2021

        Don’t you mean Colts?

        Reply
        1. PF4L January 13, 2021

          Somebody smarten me up, Veldheer was with the Packers earlier this season?

          Reply
          1. Dean January 13, 2021

            Not this season (2020), rather the end of last (2019) season and he started in the SeaHawks playoff game.

            Reply
          2. Dean January 13, 2021

            He’s on the Covid list now…

            Reply
  6. Mick January 12, 2021

    I was kind of surprised that the Eagles fired Pederson. Word has it that he was tired of being told what to do. This screams of a meddling GM forcing analytics on his coach. Also, I heard that a lot players and fans are pissed off about Pedersons’ firing. When in fact. many people believe that the GM should have been fired. It will be interesting to see how many FAs’ leave the city of brotherly love! Apparently, the owner (Lurie), believes in his GM more than the visions of his super bowl winning HC.

    Reply
    1. PF4L January 12, 2021

      The Eagles caught lightning in a bottle and won a SB with a back up QB who outplayed his talent. Credit to them.
      *
      But Pederson’s firing was because of his own actions. He lost his locker room in a single swoop. Just like if you find out your spouse cheated. It’s the same thing….Pederson would have never been looked at the same in that locker room.
      .
      Eagles fans can blame the GM, and maybe it’s even valid. But men make their own decisions. they also live with them.
      .
      Bottom line…There may never be a day, where i sympathize or GAF about any Eagles fans feelings being hurt.

      Reply
      1. Mick January 12, 2021

        Good Point about losing the locker room! The only one I feel bad for is the rookie Q-back (Jalen Hurts). He provided a much needed spark for that team, then was yanked from the game a/c no fault of his own. CRAZY!

        Reply
        1. PF4L January 12, 2021

          Jalen Hurts is standing tall and proud again. Right or wrong, Pederson getting fired was vindication for Hurts.
          .
          I don’t know if has what it takes, but i wish the kid the best of luck.

          Reply
  7. PF4L January 12, 2021

    In Salary Cap non news…….
    .
    Although the NFL and NFLPA agreed to a salary cap floor of 175 million. Optimism is out that number could be raised. But it’s based on the effectiveness of the vaccines and whether they can have full capacity in stadiums.
    .
    Over the cap predicts a 176 million cap. But i think that subject and the number will be very fluid this summer. But as much as i don’t want to say it. I’m not so sure were going to have full herd immunity against the virus come fall, we’ll have to see.
    .
    Just for kicks, i took the Packers 5 highest salaries against the cap for 2021, to see how much of the cap those 5 players take up in percentage.
    .
    If we use the OTC projected $176 million cap number, against the combined cap numbers of those 5 players which equal $110,369,059.
    .
    Then those 5 players take up 62.7% of next years cap
    .
    Those 5 players being…..
    Rodgers
    Bakhtiari
    Adams
    The Smith Bros.

    Reply
  8. Mick January 13, 2021

    Yikes!!!!! Salary cap guru Russ Ball has his work cut out for him. LOL!

    Reply
  9. PF4L January 13, 2021

    Random POV…….2020 stats.
    .
    Preston Smith….
    Snaps…814
    Solo….29
    QB Hits..11
    Sacks…4
    FF…0
    PFF..53.1
    S. Cap # 2020….13.5 million
    S. Cap # 2021….16 million
    *********
    Rashan Gary
    Snaps…456
    Solo…19
    QB Hits…11
    Sacks…5
    FF…0
    PFF….67.1
    S. Cap # 2020…1.2 million
    S. Cap # 2021….1.9 million
    **********
    We always hear things from the President and GM’s of football teams that….Every move they make is in the best interest of the football team. We also hear…we do, what gives our team the best chance to win.
    .
    So that leaves me with one thought, and one question.
    .
    1) If Gary had 358 more snaps to equal (814), it is my opinion he’d be more productive on the field than what we’ve seen from Preston Smith. I don’t have to be a football expert, nor do i need to major in applied math to come to this conclusion.
    2) So…..Is Preston Smith starting, and getting far more snaps than Rashan Gary because…
    A) He gives the Packers a better chance of winning.
    B) His contract demands it.
    ***************************
    I said from jump street, from the very 1st minute this situation was created, that it was a bad call, it was a bad move, and there were other moves that made far more sense to improve the team.
    A bunch of fans “chimed in” in support of Gute over this move. That leaves 2 observations..
    1) We don’t hear from those fans anymore.
    2) After 2 seasons i haven’t been given any reason to think different than my first reaction.
    ************
    You don’t fucking spend 118 million on two starting edge rushers, then draft (by all accounts a project edge rusher) with the 12th pick to sit on the bench.
    How can that be hard to comprehend….to anyone?
    ********
    What else did i say? After year 1, those moves can’t be graded…because they keep getting paid, hence they have to keep playing at that high level.
    One of them did.
    .

    Reply
  10. Mick January 14, 2021

    Yup, and Gary worked his tail off during the off season to become better at his craft while Reston Smith did; well, whatever he did. All I know, is that Preston wasn’t the same player he was in 2019. Let’s analyze; Smith getting 29.5 mil, and Gary getting 3.1 mil in the next 2 years. MM, BG and RB; with the teams salary cap situation; are you paying attention?

    Reply
    1. PF4L January 14, 2021

      Gute wanted to blow the load in 2018, so he handed out some winning lottery tickets. 182 million.
      .
      But in fairness, he didn’t see Covid coming and the cap going down. And they probably didn’t see that Rodgers was going to light up the league and win MVP. When they thought he’d probably emotionally blow a gasket and ask to be traded after this season…Don’t tell me that never came into their minds at the 3 Stooges round table strategy sessions, when they planned on taking J. Love.
      Again…to be fair and give credit. Gute did provide some depth on this team.
      .
      The other mistake they made was they didn’t have to pay Amos 14 mill in his 1st year, and 11 mill to Turner. They weren’t that sought after. And maybe not even the 40 million he gave the Smith Bros their first season.
      .
      How do i know they were pre-planning on taking Love?
      The plane scouting trip the previous fall to scout Love against LSU. The long reference call to an old coach of Love’s, where the coach called the call “odd” at that time of the season.
      But most importantly, Gute would have, could have never done this, without Mark Murphy knowing, and signing off on the plan.

      Reply

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