Today’s “Notes” piece focuses on the Green Bay Packers, with a look at several injuries, as well as some analysis on the much-talked about Packers red zone offense.
1. James Starks ruled out
Green Bay Packers running back James Starks has been ruled out for a second straight week, and it’s time to question to just how severe Starks’s knee sprain is. Starks looked great in Week 2 in relief of Eddie Lacy, who suffered a concussion in that game, and Starks is a quality backup RB. However, he just never seems to be able to stay healthy. Nobody expected him to come back this week, but the fact that he has already been ruled out concerns me. Let’s just hope he’s able to play next week against the Cleveland Browns, because a fourth straight week on the shelf would be of huge concern (here, “week” includes “bye week”).
2. Casey Hayward practices, Mike McCarthy noncommittal
The Green Bay Packers could get their best defensive back this week, as Adam Schefter reported last week that we should expect to see Casey Hayward back this week against the Baltimore Ravens. While it looks like Hayward will most likely miss another week with a hamstring injury, the Packers have not ruled him out like they did last week. Hayward was able to get a limited practice in, and head coach Mike McCarthy said that Hayward looked “good” and is “getting close”.
From PackersNews.com, “I have no idea (whether he’ll play this week). I think he’s getting close. He looked good. His exam tomorrow will be important. I know last week he was very sore and said he wasn’t ready. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”
Keep a close eye on tomorrow’s practice status.
3. Red Zone Offense…and defense
According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the Packers have only the 13th-best touchdown percentage in the red zone, and this has caused concern among a few fans. I’m here to tell you that the Packers red zone offense isn’t a big issue. First of all, 13th isn’t all that bad, and you can’t draw too many conclusions from four games.
First of all, Aaron Rodgers has been terrific in the red zone. He has been one of the best red zone QBs in the league this season with a 117.1 QB Rating, seven touchdowns, and no interceptions. The key to having a successful red zone offense is having a quarterback who won’t make key mistakes, and Aaron Rodgers has always been one of the best red zone QBs in the league. Are you really going to be concerned about being 13th? They have never turned the ball over. But one big issue? That darned offensive line. No QB has been sacked more than Rodgers in the red zone, as he has been brought down four times.
The red zone offense hasn’t been good- or as good in years past- but Rodgers is still doing a great job, and thus there’s no need to be concerned. Well, at least not yet. But the Packers red zone defense is definitely something to take issue with, but I think most of us expected the Packers defense to be poor in the red zone. Still, it’s a huge concern to see that the Packers defense has never forced a turnover in the red zone, yet they have also allowed 12 red zone touchdowns, which is only surpassed by three times. Beyond that, the Packers also allow a first down in the red zone on nearly 50% of their plays.
Mike McCarthy is confident that former first-round OL Derek Sherrod, currently on the PUP, will be able to play at some point this year. Via the Green Bay Press-Gazette, “As I’ve stated and it’s obvious, that was a very, very serious injury. He needed the extra time. He looks good, he’s champing at the bit. But let’s be honest, the biggest hurdle he’ll have to get over next is pads. He needs to get in pads and he needs to get in there. Once he gets over that hurdle I think he’ll be ready to go.”
McCarthy also stated that key veteran and run-stuffer Ryan Pickett suffered a minor hand injury that he was able to return from.
5. Packers deep enough to deal without Clay Matthews, roster made for long-term success
Here’s a piece I highly recommend reading from FanSided’s excellent Green Bay Packers blog Lombardi Ave. Davey Miller believes that the Packers roster is made for long-term success, and that the team’s “next man up” philosophy and depth will allow them to be fine without star OLB Clay Matthews, who will miss several weeks with a thumb fracture. In the poll, three-quarters of Packers fans believe that the Packers will be able to withstand the loss, and the piece is definitely worth the read. Give it a click.