In a piece now posted on ESPN.com, Elizabeth Merrill nicely captures the trying season that the Green Bay Packers have had from an injury perspective. The Packers have placed 13 players on season-ending injured reserve.
"There is no time to wonder who might be next," Merrill writes. "In Week 14, the latest chapter unfolded when quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered his second concussion of the season. The injury, and the subsequent 7-3 upset loss at Detroit, illustrated the fine line the Packers have been walking -- or limping on -- all season. ... They've scoured waiver wires and promoted practice-squad players, which is normally a recipe for disaster in the NFL. But somehow they're hanging on at 8-5 and in the playoff hunt -- on the heels of the NFC North-leading 9-4 Chicago Bears -- as Sunday night's game in New England looms. ... The line might finally snap if Rodgers can't go and the Packers drop their second straight. But for 14 weeks, their defense has defied statistics and logic. Nine of the IR players were on the defense. The Packers are currently No. 1 in the league in scoring defense."
The Patriots have a similar story -- they've placed 14 players on season-ending injured reserve -- which makes Sunday night's game a battle between two of the NFL's most banged-up teams. The Packers and Patriots are prime examples of why depth is so important in today's NFL.
A look at the Patriots' injured reserve list this season:
S Josh Barrett (shoulder) -- Claimed on waivers from the Broncos with an injury.
CB Leigh Bodden (shoulder) -- Starter was hurt in preseason.
OT/G George Bussey (knee) -- Second-year player was on the roster bubble in training camp.
RB Kevin Faulk (knee) -- Top "passing" back lost for the year in Week 2.
K Stephen Gostkowski (quad) -- Top field-position weapon hurt Nov. 7.
WR Torry Holt (knee) -- On the bubble, veteran was given an injury settlement in camp.
OT/G Nick Kaczur (back) -- Projected starter at left guard was hurt early in training camp.
S Bret Lockett (pectoral muscle) -- Was on the roster bubble when injured in training camp.
S Brandon McGowan (chest) -- Hurt in camp, which contributed to Jarrad Page acquisition.
G Stephen Neal (shoulder) -- Started the first eight games of the season before injury.
DL Darryl Richard (foot) -- Probably wouldn't have made final roster.
DE Ty Warren (hip) -- Starter is hurt early in training camp, testing depth up front.
DE Kade Weston (abdomen) -- Seventh-round pick looked like a longshot to make roster.
CB Jonathan Wilhite (hip/hamstring) -- Slot corner/special-teamer played nine games.