GREEN BAY — While it doesn’t appear that any of the injuries his Green Bay Packers sustained during Sunday night’s loss in Atlanta are season-ending, that doesn’t mean coach Mike McCarthy will have a full squad for this week’s game against Cincinnati.
And with a quick turnaround for a Thursday Night Football game against Chicago on Sept. 28, the Packers might be without some of their most important players for back-to-back games in the wake of the team’s injury-riddled 34-23 loss to the Falcons at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“There was a point there when I looked at the bench and there 10 guys on the bench (with injuries),” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said during his day-after-the-game press briefing Monday night. “We have a system with the trainers where they have a yellow card and they walk by me and they just write the number, and it seemed like it went on all night with guys going down, going back up. Hopefully that’s our one game for this year. It was definitely a challenge, but I thought our guys did a heck of a job fighting through it.”
Already without starting left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle), the Packers lost arguably their top defensive player, defensive tackle Mike Daniels, to a hamstring injury on the Falcons’ first possession. Then they lost wide receiver Jordy Nelson, their top offensive weapon, to a quadriceps injury on the Packers’ first possession.
After that, they lost wide receiver Randall Cobb (shoulder), safety Kentrell Brice (groin) and cornerback Davon House (quadriceps). Veteran right guard Jahri Evans sustained a groin injury but managed to play through it on the Packers’ beat-up offensive line.
McCarthy claimed that he was still waiting on more injury information — despite doing his press conference at 7 p.m. — and said it wouldn’t be until Wednesday that he’d have more “clarity.” Asked whether any of the injuries could be season-ending, McCarthy replied, “I don’t think I’ll be reporting any season-ending injuries, no.”
The challenge for the Packers will be to figure out what combinations they’ll be able to put together on their offensive line, at wide receiver and in the secondary for the Bengals.
“It’s going to affect the way we practice Wednesday,” McCarthy said. “I think that’s loud and clear.”
McCarthy had no update on the severity of Nelson’s quadriceps injury, which happened when he knocked knees with a defender while running a route. It happened to his right leg, the same leg where he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in 2015 and missed the year.
Cobb said he injured his shoulder early on, then hurt it later in the game and had to come out. Cobb played through two shoulder injuries in 2015.
“I got hit in the first quarter, (then) I re-aggravated it,” Cobb said. Asked if he thought he’d be ready for the next game, Cobb replied, “I’ll be all right.”
If neither Nelson nor Cobb can go, Davante Adams would be the No. 1 wide receiver against the Bengals, with Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis as the next men up. The team also has fifth-round pick DeAngelo Yancey on the practice squad, but adding him to the 53-man roster would require a corresponding roster move.
If Daniels, who was listed as questionable entering the game because of a hip injury, can’t play against the Bengals, it’ll be a significant blow. Daniels was a dominant force in the team’s season-opening win over Seattle.
“He’s a difference-maker. And you want as many difference makers-on the field as you can,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “All you have to do is go back a week and look at Mike’s performance against Seattle. He was dominant. Hopefully we’ll get Mike healthy and get him back out there.”
Speaking after the game Sunday night, Bakhtiari said he went through a workout before pregame warmups but the medical staff made it clear that he wasn’t ready to go.
“I really want to be out there. I don’t like missing practice and/or games, but it’s tough. It’s a decision that we thought was best for the team going into the game,” Bakhtiari said. “We had an idea going into the week, and we did everything in our power, and we went out there and tried it. We talked about it collectively and decided it was in the best interest in me not going out there and suiting up for the 46.”