James Jones hasn't played yet. Neither has Josh Sitton. Justin Harrell is officially unavailable until week 6. Al Harris got busted up. Atari Bigby's down with a hammy. Ryan Grant is still returning from a hammy. Scott Wells had the infamous "trunk" injury. Aaron Rodgers sprained his shoulder. AJ Hawk might have some issues. So might Korey Hall. Nick Collins and Charles Woodson have been toughing it out. Cullen Jenkins is gone for the season.
Did I miss anybody?
Needless to say, injuries have hit harder this season than anyone expected. The depth of the team is being tested more than people would probably like. However, take a look at the players getting PT in place of injured starters: Jordy Nelson, Tramon Williams, Will Blackmon, Aaron Rouse, Daryn Colledge, Tony Moll, Mike Montgomery, Brandon Chillar, Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn, and possibly Matt Flynn. These are all extraordinarily young players with talent, the likes of which make up the foundation of this football team.
Much has been made of Green Bay having one of the youngest rosters in the history of the league. It was part of the reason the 2007 season was such a surprise; it seemed that everyone outside of Brett Favre and Donald Driver had come out of college only a few years prior. However, I argue that the youth is the main reason for the success the team has had.
We all know Ted Thompson's M.O: Cut loose veterans starting to lose a step (Ahman Green) or that are ruining the salary cap (Cletidus Hunt), scorn the free agent system (except for Charles Woodson and, to a lesser extent, Brandon Chillar), and get more players in the middle and late rounds of the draft to build and develop the team. That's how he built Seattle before they started to flirt with suckiness, and that's how he built this team.
We saw the young talent last year; especially on offense with Ryan Grant and Greg Jennings emerging as breakout players. But we also saw that talent in the infamous 2006 season, especially in the last four weeks when the Packers won all four. And we will continue to see that talent come closer and closer to ability this season.
The injuries suck, there's no doubt about that. But maybe, just maybe, this is what the team needs. Everybody has been pretty much in agreement that this team is playoff worthy, but they can't get past the Dallas' and Philadelphias' of the NFC. At least not this year. I believe that all the young players getting playing time they normally wouldn't get is going to help this team develop faster and more thoroughly, and that next season is going to be a special one.
I'm not writing off this season, I still believe the Packers are a top-10 team in the league. However, if injuries derail us this year like they did in 2002-2003, it will suck in 2008 big time. But in 2009? Look out, NFL, here come the Packers.
But only if they improve their medical staff.