The Green Bay Packers will enter this week’s game with the San Francisco 49ers the healthiest they’ve been since early in the season.
The team was buoyed this past week by the return of receiver Jordy Nelson, who had been out since week four. Expected to return from injury this week are linebackers Aaron Kampman and Brandon Chillar, tight end Jermichael Finley and tackle Mark Tauscher.
The only significant injury the team suffered against the Dallas Cowboys was to fullback John Kuhn, who broke his hand, but the injury will not require surgery.
The Packers are also getting stronger, particularly because of the play of two rookies – tackle T.J. Lang and linebacker Brad Jones.
Lang filled in for Tauscher at right tackle against the Cowboys, and according to Packers coach Mike McCarthy, will be in consideration to keep the starting spot once Tauscher returns.
“I thought he played well. He graded out very well, and physically he seemed to come out of the game OK. It was good to see him. I think he’s a little more comfortable on the right side than the left side, which I think everybody can understand that,” McCarthy said.
Jones, meanwhile, played admirably in Kampman’s absence, notching seven solo tackles and forcing us to take a look at why he’s a better fit for the 3-4 than Kampman is. While Kampman will get his starting spot back, Jones is likely to take at least a few snaps away from him.
“I think he’s warranted an opportunity to play. I was very pleased with his performance, his ability to get off blocks, some of the plays he made. He’s done a nice job,” McCarthy said. “He’s really been coming on in special teams, has been productive there, and had a productive evening [Sunday].”
The steady improvement of Jones, and to a lesser extent, Lang, can only make the Packers stronger. Lang’s story is a bit convoluted, since he’s been shuffled around just about every position on the offensive line except right tackle during his first year in the league.
If he’s given a permanent home at right tackle, a position that has been a major weakness for the Packers this season, it may pay long-term dividends.
Speculation aside, the Green Bay Packers will again be doing battle with their strongest units on the field for the first time in a long time, and that’s something Packers fans can get excited about.