Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Packers keep getting younger
By Rob Demovsky
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- By now, it should be clear this is the how the Green Bay Packers operate under general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy.
A player gets injured. In this case receiver Randall Cobb, who was placed on the temporary injured reserve list with the option to return in eight weeks from a fractured fibula; and tight end Ryan Taylor, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday and will miss several weeks. Now, what do they do?
They promote a pair of rookies, receiver Myles White and tight end Jake Stoneburner, from the practiced squad. More often than not, that's the way the Packers have handled injuries.
However, the cumulative effect of that is starting to sink in. The Packers will take a roster with 14 rookies on it into Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns. Counting the two rookies they have on injured reserve -- receivers Sederrick Cunningham and Kevin Dorsey -- only one NFL team has more rookies in house than the Packers, according to ESPN Stats and Information. The New England Patriots top that list with 18, including injured players.
“These guys have gone through camp, they know the system,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “This is the way we operate. This is another example of that, and it's important for them to play, compete and have a winning performance on Sunday.”
To review, here's a breakdown of the Packers' rookies:
The injury to Taylor caught the Packers off guard. The special teams ace made it through Sunday's 19-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens with only minimal knee pain and even went through a weight-lifting session on Tuesday, but an exam showed that he needed to have his knee surgically repaired.
Stoneburner likely will play on special teams. The Packers have three other tight ends -- Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick -- who likely would play on offense ahead of Stoneburner.
And White won't be asked to replace Cobb, but he might play some if James Jones' knee injury keeps him out against the Browns. Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin would be the top-two receivers if Jones can't play. His status will be determined later in the week.
The Packers began the season as the fifth-youngest team in the NFL, according to ESPN.com's Mike Sando, and they've done nothing but add more youth.
“At this point in the season, age shouldn't be a factor,” veteran defensive tackle B.J. Raji said. “In that situation, you have to be accountable.”
Lacy, the Packers' starting running back, said the veterans have helped ease his transition to the NFL.
“I can't speak for the rookies as a whole because everybody takes pressure different,” said Lacy, the Packers' leading rusher. “But for me personally the guys are doing a great job of keeping me focused and comfortable and if I have a question, I can ask pretty much everybody and they're going to be willing to help me whether it's something we've went over 1,000 times or something I had to learn that day.”