Packers Weekly Progress Report: What Does the Roster Depth Look Like in Week 7?

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2012

Less than a week after the debacle in Indianapolis, the Green Bay Packers allowed their fans a sigh of relief, which may have stopped when the butcher's bill came to light Monday.

Inside linebacker DJ Smith was placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL, as was running back Brandon Saine. Meanwhile, corner Sam Shields left with a shin injury (but should be fine), and outside linebacker Nick Perry also left with a knee injury (though is reportedly fine).

That might take some of the sweetness out of the victory for Packers fans.

The Pack has been in this position before—hurtling through the season with players dropping like flies. In 2010, Green Bay survived through depth of roster.

So the biggest question heading into this week is: Do the Packers have the same kind of depth they did in 2010?

Because let's face it—the roster depth surprised pretty much everyone (even some Cheeseheads).

Here is a quick and dirty look at roster depth as it stands today. Backups are in parenthesis, major injuries are italicized.


Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers (Graham Harrell)

In limited action—very limited—Harrell has been so-so. However, Aaron Rodgers is healthy and seems to be performing better. The starter is, of course, a tremendous player, but as far as the backup situation is concerned, it's a big—and scary—question mark.


Running Back: Alex Green (James Starks, Johnny White, John Kuhn—FB) Cedric Benson, Brandon Saine

Losing Benson is a blow, but Mike McCarthy believes Green can carry the full load, and that's good because at this point it's unlikely James Starks can. It's going to be interesting to see how the run game continues to develop without Cedric Benson. If Green goes down, Starks would get a big share of the carries, but I expect the Packers would rotate in former Buffalo Bill Johnny White and even fullback John Kuhn.

White is a good-sized, fast back who is a good complement to either Green or Starks but will take time to develop. Kuhn is a short-yardage guy and a blocker.

If there is another injury I would expect an addition here, but there's precious little out there worth signing, so it wouldn't be an upgrade.


Wide Receiver: Greg Jennings (inj), Jordy Nelson, James Jones (Randall Cobb, Donald Driver, Jarrett Boykin)

How long before we see Jennings shut down? Hopefully not anytime soon, but this groin injury has been a lingering one, and frankly, the team must not see a need to rush him back with Nelson, Cobb and Jones playing well. 

I debated whether Jones or Cobb would be the third receiver here, but according to the official chart, Cobb is behind Jones.

Not that it really matters, as the team is constantly coming up with ways to get the ball into Cobb's hands to see what kind of magic he brings to the table. Driver has played well in the rare instance when he has been needed. Boykin has an intriguing skill set, the surface of which hasn't been scratched.

Unless the group is decimated by injury, it's clearly got tremendous roster depth.


Tight End: Jermichael Finley (DJ Williams, Tom Crabtree, Ryan Taylor) Andrew Quarless

I wonder if Finley can hear the tick-tock of his time in Green Bay coming to a close. It's clear that he isn't comfortable there. Add to it his constant drops, and one wonders if they will be looking at other options this offseason. On top of that, he's banged up.

Williams is an improving pass blocker but still lacks polish at it. However, the one-time receiver has fantastic hands and athleticism, and it may not be long before he can be a more consistent version of Finley. 

Tom Crabtree has made some nice—and surprising—plays this season but is still not used a ton in the passing game, though when he is targeted it's often for a big gain. Taylor has yet to see the field but has decent size and is a better blocker than DJ Williams.

**Edited** I left Quarless out because he's on the PUP still, but as I have Sherrod on here in the same situation, he should be on here. Quarless is a solid tight end who could step in and contribute quickly, though if Williams and Finley are healthy, he won't get a ton of snaps. However if there is an injury, once Quarless is back, he'd be a good replacement.

Tight end is a good position for depth in Green Bay.


Offensive Line: Jeff Saturday (C), Josh Sitton (RG), TJ Lang (LG), Bryan Bulaga (RT), Marshall Newhouse (LT), (Don Barclay, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Greg Van Roten), Derek Sherrod

The line play has been a little inconsistent this year—which may be an understatement. Recently, it appears as if they have regained their feet and played better.

There isn't a ton of depth behind the starting line—according to the official chart, Dietrich-Smith would cover the center and guard positions while Barclay would handle either tackle spot. On top of that, Sherrod is still healing and might or might not come off the PUP sometime soon, in which case he will back up the tackles primarily.

It's not a lot of depth, and as we saw in the preseason, a single injury can throw things out of whack.

As long as everyone is healthy, this line has the talent to perform at a high level.

Beyond that, injuries could set the season up in flames very quickly.


Defensive Line: BJ Raji (NT-inj), Ryan Pickett (DE/NT), CJ Wilson (DE), (Mike Neal, Jerel Worthy, Mike Daniels)

Raji is hurt, and his status is uncertain for Sunday, but overall this is a healthy unit right now.

Pickett and Wilson are both solid ends, and Pickett is more than adequate filling in for Raji. Rookie Jerel Worthy is coming along, perhaps not as fast as was hoped, but he's making progress. Neal has stepped in the last two weeks with Raji banged up, and rookie Mike Daniels is completely unproven, as he hasn't seen a snap.

It's not a tremendously deep group beyond the starters, but if Worthy can round out a bit quicker, it's solid.


Linebackers: AJ Hawk (ILB), Clay Matthews (ROLB), Nick Perry (LOLB), Brad Jones (MLB), (Erik Walden, Dezmon Moses, Jamari Lattimore, Rob Francois, Terrell Manning) DJ Smith, Desmond Bishop, Frank Zombo (PUP)

AJ Hawk has quietly been playing the best football of his career and has been doing an excellent job, as has Clay Matthews. Rookie Nick Perry is starting to click on the left side as well, and if he can play this weekend (his knee shouldn't hold him back, but the team has been quiet) we might start seeing the true potential of this linebacking corps' starting unit.

Jones has also played well at middle linebacker.

The rest of the linebackers are largely depth players, but all are very solid in their roles. Overall, this unit has already overcome the loss of Desmond Bishop, who was replaced by DJ Smith, who is now hurt as well. 

It seems pretty clear that the ability to play "next man up" is already being executed at this position.


Defensive Backs: Charles Woodson (SS/CB), Morgan Burnett (FS), Sam Shields (RCB), Tramon Williams (LCB) (Jarrett Bush, Casey Hayward, MD Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Sean Richardson, Davon House, Brandian Ross)

To start the year off, this unit looked pretty shaky, but it's begun to round out nicely and, as far as depth goes, has probably one of the better groups.

A lot of the main depth—Bush, Hayward, Jennings and McMillian in particular—have played a bunch, as the team moves them in and out for different packages.

So not only are there a lot of solid players, but they have experience as well.

Injuries to a guy like Woodson or Williams might be hard to overcome, as they are high-level talents. However, in terms of having a guy be able to step up and play well, this is another group that has it covered.



There are plenty of positions at which the Packers have tremendous depth. The biggest question marks right now are the offensive line, quarterback and running back—the first two being the most critical to the success of the team.

Overall, though, despite some injuries, the Packers look to be in good shape heading into this week's game against the St Louis Rams.

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Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.


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