The Green Bay Packers will be without at least one defensive starter on Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints, and it is quite likely that that number could grow to two or three when the inactives are announced about a 90 minutes before game time.
The team announced its injury report today, and though it's not a long report, the names on it and the severity of the injuries are concerning. Here's the list:
Packers Injury Report
Probable: RB James Starks (ankle)
Questionable: S Morgan Burnett (calf)
Doubtful: CB Sam Shields (knee)
Out: DE Datone Jones (ankle)
That's right, three defensive starters are questionable or worse this week. Jones will miss his third straight game with his ankle injury. Despite practicing on a limited basis on Thursday, Mike McCarthy said that he "pushed it" in practice that day and that the medical staff feels that Jones is not ready to go. Therefore, Josh Boyd will likely get the start once again at left defensive end.
Shields' absence will be noticed, but with the great play from the Packers' secondary a week ago without him it should not be a terribly painful loss. Adding to the reason for optimism about that unit is the fact that Shields' fellow starter, Tramon Williams, was not on the injury report all week and is apparently full-go for Sunday.
Morgan Burnett's injury is concerning, however, though McCarthy said on Friday that Burnett is "making progress" and at least will have a good opportunity to make it into the active lineup. If Burnett can't go, Micah Hyde and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would likely start at the two safety positions, but Sean Richardson would probably be in line for expanded playing time as well. McCarthy noted that the coaching staff has been talking about giving Richardson more opportunities for a while, and this week may be just the right time for that to happen.
Oh, and if you're worried about James Starks at all, let this exchange from Thursday's practice put your mind at ease:
James Starks looked fast sprinting out of #Packers locker room today. When he came back he said, "I feel good." Good for Sunday? "Oh, yeah!"— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) October 23, 2014
Stay tuned, as we'll bring you the Saints' injury report when we can.