The Green Bay Packers’ defense has been a M*A*S*H unit all year long, and in particular the linebacker unit has been hit hard by injuries throughout the 2016 season. The Packers’ inside linebackers in particular have been shuffled in recent weeks, with Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez, and Clay Matthews all missing time (or being limited) over the last few weeks.
Now, the outside linebacker unit can add a starter to the list of walking wounded. In his Wednesday press conference, Mike McCarthy noted that Nick Perry has already been ruled out for the Packers’ week 14 game against the Seattle Seahawks due to the hand injury he suffered last week against Houston. Perry suffered his injury early in the game and returned briefly in the second half for a few plays before being held out for the remainder of the contest.
With Perry out for most of the game and Matthews still limited with his shoulder injury, the Packers were forced to play Julius Peppers and Datone Jones heavily against the Texans - the two players were on the field for 58 and 56 snaps, respectively. They will likely be in for a heavy workload once again this week. Jayrone Elliott will also likely see more snaps, and the same goes for Kyler Fackrell depending on whether he returns from an injury of his own this Sunday.
One injury item that may be helpful for the outside linebacker rotation would be the potential return of inside linebacker Blake Martinez to the active roster. If he is able to play, that would give the Packers their two preferred starters inside, plus Joe Thomas as a backup for both spots; thus, Clay Matthews would likely be freed up to play more on the outside. Of course, Matthews has been limited and largely ineffective in the last two games anyhow, so that might not be that much of a help.
Stay tuned throughout the week and on Sunday to see how the Packers will address the linebacker position.
UPDATE: Apparently Perry’s injury is bad enough that he needed surgery, as Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported today. This is a really unfortunate blow for a player who has finally been mostly healthy for the first time in his NFL career. Still, Rapoport reports that there he may be able to play with a cast on his hand after this week.