Green Bay Packers just can’t kill the injury bug

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 15: Anthony Barr /

The past six weeks have been a nightmare for the Green Bay Packers’ training staff. Injury after injury has derailed this season, like so many before it.

Week after week, season after season, the Packers lose countless players to injuries both over the long-term and for a few weeks at a time. The team has managed to be extremely successful despite this, but the unavailability of so many players every year has hampered them from being a Super Bowl force.

Many point to the 2010 season, when the Packers advanced to the Super Bowl and beat the Steelers in Dallas. Despite having the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL that year and an offense that looked like an unstoppable juggernaut at times, the team finished 10-6 and limped into the postseason with 16 players on injured reserve.

That’s right, one out of every four players on the roster was lost for the year including six opening day starters.

Ryan Grant, Jermichael Finley, Mark Tauscher, Morgan Burnett and Nick Barnett were all lost before the season had even reached its midpoint. Other contributors such as Derrick Martin, Brandon Chillar, Mike Neal and Marshall Newhouse were also among the casualties from that year. A rising superstar at quarterback without much tape on him and a brilliant defense propelled the Packers past the Steelers and to their fourth Super Bowl.

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With a Super Bowl team suddenly getting several of its major pieces back from injury, expectations were justifiably high for the Packers in 2011. And they rode a 15-1 record into the playoffs only to be bounced by the Giants. It was the beginning of the end for the Packers’ defense, a unit that only a year before was so instrumental in a championship year.

Nick Collins, a three-time-All-Pro safety who was the anchor in the defensive backfield, suffered a career-ending neck injury against the Carolina Panthers. Lawrence Guy, now a starting defensive tackle for the Patriots, was lost for the year midway through 2012. Chad Clifton missed the second half of the year and was cut at season’s end due to a failed physical.

The Packers also lost rookie running back Alex Green for the year. In response, general manager Ted Thompson scrambled to bring in Cedric Benson who was also placed on IR shortly thereafter.

All in all in 2012, the Packers had over 300 missed games combined over the course of the season, good for an average of almost six games per active player.

In 2013 it only got worse. The Packers finished 8-7-1, and a combined 286 games were missed. Aaron Rodgers was lost for seven of those with a broken left collarbone, Clay Matthews for five games, and Randall Cobb for 11 games.

Bryan Bulaga didn’t play all season with a torn ACL. In their playoff loss against the 49ers, the Packers lost Mike Neal and Sam Shields in the opening half of the game. The Packers again placed 16 players on IR, and lost their star tight end Jermichael Finley permanently.

In 2014 the Packers were finally a little bit healthier, at least by their standards. B.J. Raji was lost for the year before the season even started. Promising rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis tore his ACL in training camp, and his backup on the depth chart, Kevin Dorsey, was also placed on IR before Week 1.

Linebackers Jamari Lattimore, Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer had their seasons end early, while Don Barclay missed all 16 games with a knee injury. J.C. Tretter, now the starting center in Cleveland, missed the whole season as well.

Against the Buccaneers late in the season, Aaron Rodgers badly strained his calf and was immobile for both playoff games against the Cowboys and Seahawks. The Packers lost Clay Matthews in the second half of the Seattle game as well.

The 2015 season was revenge time for the Packers, who were beginning to see their fans’ patience run low. The team’s second preseason game was barely a half old before Jordy Nelson was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Such a crippling blow didn’t stop the Packers from reaching 6-0 and another playoff berth, but the hits just kept coming.

Sam Barrington, the team’s starting linebacker who had earned the respect of his coaches after a strong showing in the playoffs the year before, was lost for the season with a foot injury during the first half of the team’s opening game against the Bears.

High draft pick Josh Boyd broke his leg a week later. Ty Montgomery was lost for the year with an ankle injury. Tight end Andrew Quarless missed 12 games with a knee problem. Sam Shields missed the last quarter of the season with a concussion.

Sean Richardson‘s career ended in Week 5 after a neck injury. Davante Adams had dealt with an ankle issue all year long, before a knee injury in the wild-card round against the Redskins ended his season. Heading into Arizona, the Packers were already without Nelson, Adams and Montgomery. Randall Cobb then punctured his lung on a diving catch during the first half, leaving Mike McCarthy with just three receivers.

In 2016, Sam Shields suffered a likely career-ending concussion on opening day against the Jaguars. Eddie Lacy was lost for the season in Week 6 against the Cowboys, and Corey Linsley sat for the first seven games of the year. James Starks missed 10 games that year, leaving the Packers with Don Jackson and Christine Michael at running back. Like clockwork, Jackson was placed on IR less than one half into his first start with a hand injury.

The season ended in bewildering fashion. Jordy Nelson suffered broken ribs against the Giants, making him absent for the team’s following matchup against the Cowboys. Already down numerous defensive backs, Morgan Burnett was lost during the first drive of the game, further jeopardizing the Packers’ poor defense.

Against Atlanta in the NFC title game, with a banged up Nelson, Geronimo Allison limped onto the field with a strained hamstring, while three offensive linemen left the game.

The final drive featured Letroy Guion, the team’s starting defensive tackle playing right guard for the Packers. A combined 239 games were missed in 2016, and the supporting cast around Aaron Rodgers continued to wither.

Now in 2017, it has been an even worse year for the Packers on the injury front. Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari have been in and out all year. Lane Taylor left Sunday’s game with injury.

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Montravius Adams hasn’t played a snap yet due to a foot injury, while Vince Biegel has been on the PUP list so far this season with the same injury.

Nick Perry has had his annual hand surgery. Jason Spriggs is out for the year. Don Barclay is too. Quinten Rollins was placed on injured reserve this week. Davon House has missed three games.

Finally, it all came to a head against the Vikings, when Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone and could miss the remainder of the season.

The Packers are not a team that is simply victimized by poor luck with injuries. Every team loses some players each year to injury, but few have it happen with this amount of regularity. Against the Vikings, a player went down every three or four snaps seemingly as players were beginning to play different positions than they were used to.

The bottom line is, the team needs to make a massive change. Not only is this overdue, but there has to be a shakeup in the personnel department. GM Ted Thompson has failed to bring in established athletes who can hold their own in full-on contact.

Toughness isn’t the problem in Green Bay, but this absurd record of injuries is unprecedented. Since 2010, the Packers have had players miss an absolutely astounding 1,577 games in just six seasons. That averages out to five missed games for all 53 players for six straight years.

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Mike McCarthy deserves all the credit in the world for getting his team to consistently limp into the playoffs, as he has had exactly one player to work with on his team that is both good and consistently healthy. Now that he is no longer there, the Packers will be exposed to what they really are: The best one man show in the NFL.