Ian Rapoport | Tags:
The Packers did something very rare today. They ruled WR Greg Jennings out for Sunday’s game against the Colts even before Friday. He had battled a groin injury and described himself as “frustrated” on Wednesday for having to deal with it.
Now, the idea is to let it heal and come back stronger. That was the decision that coach Mike McCarthy made after speaking with Jennings prior to practice (one Jennings did not participate in).
“We just talked through the history of his injury and we felt like we were going around in a circle,” McCarthy said. “We just felt like, why take decision all the way to Sunday? We’re going to shut him down for the week, he’s going to stay in for the rehab process until next week.”
This does sting a little, as Jennings is their Pro Bowl receiver. But after going into the locker room, it’s clear there is no panic. The offense hasn’t been as productive as it usually is, with a No. 20 offensive ranking. They haven’t ended any season since 2005 out of the top 10. But perhaps things will be better after having to function without Jennings.
Obviously, they’d like to have him, as McCarthy pointed out. But the Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers have shown promise of bouncing out of their inconsistent ways. The first quarter of the Saints game was something everyone pointed to.
“We have an outstanding corps of receivers when Greg is in there,” offensive coordinator Tom Clements told me. “Unfortunately, he’s not in there this week. But we still feel we have people who can be productive and we still feel like we have an outstanding corps. We have guys who have been productive, who we think will continue to be productive. Now, we have Cedric Benson, who has been running the ball and helping us out there. So, we went through this a couple years ago defensively. We lost a lot of guys throughout the course of the year and someone had to step up and take an opportunity and go with it. That’s what we hope happens with offense.”
One possibility is that Rodgers simply targets WRs Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb more. Another is that elderly statesman Donald Driver finally plays more snaps. I talked to him about that, and I’ll have more on the topic later. But what about the offense in general?
“I mean, we’re fine,” Driver told me. “I’ve always said, we got a group of receivers who can go anywhere in the National Football League and start. So, we’re going to miss Greg, but the biggest thing for us is we gotta go out there and make plays like we always do.”
Jennings can be a star, but he’s contributed just 12 catches this year. He simply hasn’t been healthy, while a guy like Nelson (21 catches for 260 yards) has emerged. Nelson’s point was that, perhaps because the system is sound, nothing will change.
“Next guy up,” Nelson told me. “That’s how this team is. You can go back to the Super Bowl year for as many guys as we got hurt, that’s how it was. Next guy up. We’re going to run our same stuff. We have to continue to move forward and guys will have to make the most of this opportunity. Obviously, we want Greg back as soon as possible, but I think he also needs to get healthy so he’s not in and out all the time. He can get healthy and get all the way back.“