GREEN BAY, Wis. – Unlike his first two seasons, Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur has had to grapple with several injuries to key players.
By the end of Sunday’s victory at Chicago, the Packers were without eight starters. While LaFleur was optimistic about All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari (expected to practice for the first time this week), All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander (might not need potentially season-ending surgery) and veteran cornerback Kevin King (LaFleur called him “day to day”), the team still has stormy seas to navigate, continuing on Sunday against Washington.
“I think there are ways to prevent some of the soft-tissue injuries, but some of these it’s just a part of football – an unfortunate part of football,” LaFleur said.
The Packers have been dealing with more pain than most teams this season and definitely more pain than their opponents. While the sheer number of injuries hasn’t been bad, it’s been the quality of those players. According to ManGamesLost.com, the Packers were the third-most-impacted team based on the quality of players out of the lineup before the Week 6 games. With three Pro Bowlers out at Chicago – Bakhtiari, Alexander and Za’Darius Smith – the numbers certainly didn’t get any better.
Looking ahead, while Green Bay is getting at least a little healthier, it might not have to face the opponent’s starting quarterback in two of the next four games.
Here's a look at Green Bay’s final six games until the bye.
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Washington: The Football Team signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year, $10 million contract during free agency but he suffered a hip injury in the opener and is on injured reserve. He will not play on Sunday. All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff has missed the last couple games with a knee injury but could return this week. Heading into Week 6, Washington had fielded the second-healthiest roster this season in terms of games lost due to injuries, according to ManGamesLost.com.
Arizona: Center Rodney Hudson, the rock in the middle of the offensive line, went on injured reserve this week. With tight end Maxx Williams out with a season-ending knee injury, the Cardinals acquired Zach Ertz from the Eagles. Arizona has fielded the ninth-healthiest roster this season. The Cardinals have one of the best offenses in the NFL and Alexander at least is eligible to return from injured reserve for this Thursday night game.
Kansas City: Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be eligible to return from injured reserve with his knee injury. In his place against Washington last week, Damien Williams had 89 total yards and two touchdowns. As of last week, the Chiefs have been the healthiest team in the NFL in terms of games lost.
Seattle: Star quarterback Russell Wilson, who is No. 1 in the NFL in passer rating, suffered a broken finger against the Rams that required surgery. He is targeting the Week 10 game vs. Green Bay for his return. With Wilson’s 149-game starts streak having come to an end, Seattle lost 23-20 at Pittsburgh on Sunday night. Geno Smith was 23-of-32 passing for 209 yards and one touchdown. Running back Chris Carson (neck) also is eligible to return from injured reserve against Green Bay. He had 3,062 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns the previous three seasons. Before Week 6, Seattle had lost the 18th-fewest games to injuries.
Minnesota: Top cornerback Patrick Peterson was placed on injured reserve on Monday with a hamstring injury. He is eligible to return against Green Bay. “Patrick’s played really well,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “We’ll miss him for sure, but (Cam) Dantzler's done decent and so has [Bashaud] Breeland.” The Vikings ranked right in the middle in games lost due to injuries but are the 10th-healthiest in terms of talent.
L.A. Rams: The Rams have fielded the fourth-healthiest roster in the NFL. On Sunday against the Giants, every player on the inactives list was a healthy scratch. They have only three players on injury lists, including running back Cam Akers (Achilles) and cornerback Darious Williams (ankle).
Green Bay’s first six opponents were relatively healthy. In Week 6, Chicago’s top three running backs were out. In Week 5, Cincinnati’s Pro Bowl running back, Joe Mixon, was slowed by a knee injury. In Week 4, Pittsburgh’s big-play receiver, Chase Claypool, was out but it regained the services of T.J. Watt. In Week 3, San Francisco’s running back corps was decimated but was otherwise healthy. In Week 2, Detroit was without left tackle Taylor Decker and receiver Tyrell Williams. In the opener, the Saints didn’t have anyone of note on their inactives list.