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Sept 24, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings (85) looks to side judge Lance Easley (26) for an explanation for a call for the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

Packers: Will losses of Raji, Jennings and Finley really hurt?

Sep 13, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji (90) rushes as Chicago Bears guard Lance Louis (60) and offensive tackle Gabe Carimi (72) block during the game at Lambeau Field. The Packers defeated the Bears 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

The Green Bay Packers go into Sunday night’s showdown in Houston without the services of starting running back Cedric Benson – we all know that.

But the jury is still out on the availability of wide receiver Greg Jennings, defensive lineman B.J. Raji and tight end Jermichael Finley.

All of them went down to injury over the past couple of weeks and for a team that’s struggling on both sides of the ball, losing important starters like these guys isn’t going to help their cause at Houston.

Jennings has been a hit or miss over the last three games as he struggles to make it back from a groin injury. As the days wind down to their next game and without him practicing, one has to lean toward him not making it to the field in Texas.

Of all the three – Jennings, Raji and Finley – his loss affects the team the most. I say that because when he is out it hasn’t seemed that any of the other wide receivers, with the exception of James Jones, has really stepped up their play. Heading into the season, wide receiver was seen as the Packers’ greatest strength. Without Jennings it seems like one of its greatest liabilities.

The defensive line received a bolstering when Mike Neal returned, but losing Raji removes its strength in the middle. How Dom Capers adjusts to Raji’s loss will be a key in stopping the potent Houston run game.

Sep 9, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley (88) during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. The 49ers defeated the Packers 30-22. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

As for Finley, Packers Nation is so disappointed in his comments today that were taken to diss Aaron Rodgers that most probably don’t care. However, he is a talent the Packers need to help make up for the loss of Jennings. His backups, D.J. Williams and Tom Crabtree, have also been dinged up in the early going, so if Finley can make it back onto the field in time for Sunday’s game that will be a plus.

The real question, however, on the injury front, is how the Packers will fill the void left by Benson. The newly-acquired running back is gone for the next two months and it sounds like the Packers running game will be managed via committee.

I guess we’ll see if Alex Green and James Starks will be able to carry the load. Throw in John Kuhn and hopefully the Packers will be able to throw some different looks at opponents. No doubt, the offense is going to miss the pounding up-the-middle running style that Benson brought so effectively. The bottom line is that Benson will be difficult to replace – as will Jennings, Raji and Finley.

Being a healthy team would go a long way in knocking off the 5-0 Texans, but that’s not what the Packers bring. How the staff schemes to adjust for those losses will be a huge key in how the Packers do against the Texans and down the road.

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Tags: B.J. Raji Cedric Benson Green Bay Packers Greg Jennings Injuries Jermichael Finley

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