Packers keeping calm amid injury woes

By GENARO C. ARMAS - AP Sports Writer
    2013-10-16 17:04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - Stiff upper lip, Packers fans.

All those injuries aren't going to keep coach Mike McCarthy down. Worried, yes. But he will press on.

And just to add emphasis, McCarthy turned to a British motto used during World War II to motivate his team during this rough patch.

''No one is over-reacting,'' he said Wednesday after practice. ''Our theme is, `Keep Calm and Carry On.' So, you historians probably appreciate that.''

The Packers would probably more appreciate a smaller injury report. But it only grew Wednesday.

Linebacker Mike Neal watched practice with a bruised shoulder. The emerging Neal, converted from defensive end, had been starting for pass-rushing specialist Clay Matthews, who is out at least a few more weeks with a thumb injury.

Green Bay also lost Nick Perry this week for a few weeks to a foot injury.

As of now, that left them with two rookies - Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer - taking first-team snaps Wednesday on the outside.

''It was not a lot of fun, so something we had to adjust,'' McCarthy said about having to install game plans Wednesday with uncertainty at outside linebacker. ''It's been a busy 48 hours.''

Just as much on offense, too. Receiver Randall Cobb went on injured reserve this week with a designation to possibly return to practice after six weeks, and back into a game after eight weeks.

Receiver James Jones, who left the 19-17 win over the Ravens last week with a knee injury, didn't practice Wednesday, though McCarthy said Jones was ''very positive about where he is, how he feels.''

McCarthy added that Jones is gearing up for a possible test in his rehab schedule, and that he should know more about whether or not Jones and Neal will be available on Friday.

Starting inside linebacker Brad Jones' status also remains in question after he missed last week with a hamstring injury. Also, backup tight end Ryan Taylor had procedure on his knee Wednesday that may keep him out a few weeks.

All of which makes for a lot of contingency planning for the Browns, who will be at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

''Obviously, personnel groups on both sides of the ball are stressed,'' McCarthy said, though he added that ''we feel like we have a good plan and we'll be ready to go.''

Going for the Packers are two big improvements this year: Run defense and the emergence of a running game. Green Bay has had three 100-yard rushers in its last four games, and rookie Eddie Lacy came a yard shy two weeks ago against the Lions.

And don't count out the Packers so long as Aaron Rodgers is calling the signals at quarterback.

''Well, we still like to throw the football around here. Injuries to guys running routes (are) never a good thing, but I think that it gives guys opportunities,'' Rodgers said.

Wideout Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley are what's left of what once was a top-notch receiving quartet with Cobb and James Jones.

Jarrett Boykin and Myles White, signed off the practice squad this week, will be relied on to help fill the void. White, undrafted rookie out of Louisiana Tech, is one of 14 rookies now on the Packers roster. He understandably had a smile on his face during his first practice as a full-fledged Packer that didn't disappear once he got to the locker room.

White said he's glad he had been getting a few snaps at practice the last few weeks with Rodgers ''so it's not like I'm trying to spark something right now.''

The attitude from White is part of the upside from all the injuries - the drive of younger players to contribute when the opportunity arises.

And if the team needs any more motivation, they can draw it from the McCarthy's latest tactic.

He borrowed the framed ''Keep Calm and Carry On'' sign from his wife, who he said had an appreciation for arts and history. A team assistant held it up during a meeting with the players.

''I eat those things up, man. I love it. I think it's a good. it's true, too,'' linebacker A.J. Hawk said. ''Things happen week in and week out. You can't ever panic.''

Note: The Packers brought undrafted rookie WR Tyrone Walker back to the practice squad Wednesday. Walker was with Green Bay during the preseason and spent one game this year on the Seahawks practice squad.



AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org


Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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