The Green Bay Packers suffered through another injury-plagued season in 2018, as the team saw starter after starter lose time due to various maladies — particularly on defense. Underscoring this issue is the fact that the team finished the season with a whopping 15 players on injured reserve, having had their seasons shut down for one reason or another over the course of the season.
It’s painful, but it’s worth examining each of these players and what their absences meant to the 2018 squad.
ILB Jake Ryan (training camp)
Expected to start next to Blake Martinez, Ryan was surely hoping to have a nice year heading into free agency. His presence would allow Oren Burks time to adjust to the NFL after being selected in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Instead, Ryan’s season ended before it began, tearing his ACL during one of the first practices of training camp. That forced the Packers to utilize a heavy rotation of safeties next to Martinez, and along with Burks’ shoulder injury, it helped force the Packers’ acquisition of Antonio Morrison late in camp.
CB Davon House (week 4)
The Packers got virtually no production out of House in his first two games, after bringing him back on a one year deal to ostensibly help provide a veteran presence in the secondary. Instead, the team signed Bashaud Breeland a few weeks after House went down, and he provided the depth and coverage ability that House did not.
DT Muhammad Wilkerson (week 5)
One of the bigger signings of 2018, Wilkerson was expected to make a big impact next to Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels. Instead, a gruesome broken ankle cut his year short, sending him back to free agency with more questions than answers. Dean Lowry filled in for Wilkerson admirably, and the Packers went back to more of a two-man line after he was done.
WR Geronimo Allison (week 9)
After missing a few games earlier in the season (one with a concussion and one with a hamstring injury), a groin injury cost Allison the entire second half of the season. When he was on the field prior to his first injury, he was a difference-maker — he led the team in receiving yardage through three games — and his absence forced a few of the rookie receivers into more prominent roles than the team had planned for them in their first years.
CB Kevin King (week 10)
The oft-injured King suited up in six games this season, recording his first NFL interception to set up a game-winning drive against the San Francisco 49ers. However, King continues to fight through injury after injury, missing two games with a groin injury early before a hamstring issue sent him to IR. If he can ever get healthy, he and Jaire Alexander should make a very good young starting cornerback tandem, but that’s still a big if.
S Raven Greene (week 12)
After a few promising preseason games, Greene was quiet early on in the season, playing mostly on special teams. However, he had an exciting game in the Packers’ win over the Dolphins, rushing for 26 yards on a fake punt and recording a sack on Brock Osweiler. With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix gone and Kentrell Brice dealing with injuries, Greene would have contributed heavily down the stretch had he not injured his ankle.
OLB Nick Perry (week 12)
What a dismal season it was for Perry. For years, the knock on him was that he was productive when he could stay on the field. He earned a big contract after an 11-sack campaign in 2016, but he has played just 21 of 36 games since with 8.5 sacks — and only 1.5 of those came in his nine games in 2018, after which he was shut down with knee and ankle issues. That’s brutal production for a player who made over $27 million in cash in those two years. The Packers almost have to cut him this offseason (probably as a post-June 1 cut) in order to get out from under that albatross deal.
DT Mike Daniels (week 13)
Towards the end of the team’s long, tough road stretch in the middle of the season, Daniels suffered a foot injury in Seattle. He landed on IR shortly thereafter, missing the remainder of the season and failing to reach four sacks for the first time since his rookie year. Furthermore, this was the first time Daniels had missed more than two games in any NFL season. He should be back to 100% and will be motivated in 2019, entering in a contract year.
RB Tra Carson (week 13)
A mid-season addition, Carson suited up in four games behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams as a special teams player before being shut down after Thanksgiving due to a rib injury.
OL Byron Bell (week 14)
Say this for Bell — he was valuable this season in that he was able to play a lot of snaps. The quality of those snaps was nothing special, however, but he at least was the body who got the Packers through most of a season where Justin McCray was alternately injured and ineffective at right guard. After starting nine of 12 games, Bell was shut down with a knee injury; he has now played just 24 of a possible 48 games in the last three years after missing just two in his first five seasons.
S Ibraheim Campbell (week 14)
Another in-season acquisition, Campbell arrived in Green Bay in November following the trade of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and just before the release of Jermaine Whitehead. Campbell started one game, but played significant snaps in three in a brief audition for a role on the 2019 team.
WR/KR Trevor Davis (week 14)
Davis actually began the season on injured reserve, but was designated for return around midseason and suited up for two games. Then he unceremoniously went right back on IR, apparently re-aggravating the hamstring injury that put him on the list early in the year. The team’s continued insistence on believing in Davis as a return man may be over thanks to the turnover on the coaching staff.
RB Aaron Jones (week 16)
After missing two games to start the year on suspension, Jones finally earned the starting running back duties around midseason when Mike McCarthy accepted what fans had seen for weeks. However, his highest carry count in a game was 17 (accomplished twice). Still, he scored nine times in 2018, including a string of five straight games, before being shut down late in the season with another sprained MCL — the second straight season he has had that type of injury.
DT Kenny Clark (week 17)
Clark became the third and final Packer to land on IR late in the season, though the circumstances of that designation were odd. The team reportedly planned to place him on IR with three games to go, but did not do so until before the final Sunday. Clark was deserving of All-Pro consideration, not just Pro Bowl honors, and though he received neither, he will be poised to be the Packers’ biggest defensive star next season.
CB Will Redmond (week 17)
Another midseason pickup, Redmond was a special teams player in his five games before he was shut down with a shoulder injury.
For those counting at home, nine of the 15 Packers who finished the 2018 season on injured reserve started at least one game for the team, with a tenth having been slated to be a starter before the season. It was a brutal year once again for Green Bay on that front, and hopefully the team will have better luck in 2019.