HOUSTON – As much good news as there was in the Green Bay Packers’ 42-24 victory over the previously unbeaten Houston Texans Sunday night – and there was lots of good news – injuries to a pair of starting linebackers, a starting cornerback and another running back lessened the joy in the visitors’ locker room at Reliant Stadium.
Rookie first-round pick Nick Perry (knee), starting inside linebacker D.J. Smith (knee), cornerback Sam Shields (shin) and No. 3 running back Brandon Saine (knee) all left the game with injuries and did not return, and when coach Mike McCarthy went so far as to call Smith’s and Saine’s injuries “significant,” that was a bad sign. The coach seldom gives any sort of prognosis.
"We feel ... the injuries are significant,” McCarthy said of Smith and Saine. “We’ll have to recover from that and move on.”
That’ll be easier said than done. Smith was starting in place of Desmond Bishop, who suffered a season-ending ruptured hamstring tendon in the Aug. 9 preseason opener in San Diego. With Smith out, the Packers played converted outside linebacker Brad Jones inside with A.J. Hawk, who was forced to play in nickel and dime packages with Smith sidelined.
Smith’s injury came when he was blindsided by Texans offensive lineman Duane Brown on a play that looked cheap on replay.
“I didn’t see (a replay). That’s for the league to decide,” Smith said, his right leg in a heavy brace. “Of course I think it was dirty, but it’s all on them.”
The Packers certainly have a track record of winning without key players – on Sunday night, they won without two Pro Bowl players in wide receiver Greg Jennings (groin) and defensive tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) – and they’ll need Jones and Jamari Lattimore to rise to the occasion at inside linebacker, Casey Hayward and Davon House to come up big at corner if Shields sits awhile and they’ll likely need running back help with starter Cedric Benson already out eight weeks with a Lisfranc injury in his foot.
“It hurts, but who’s going to feel sorry for us?” veteran safety Charles Woodson said. “We’ve still got games to play, and nobody’s going to care who we’ve got in the lineup. They’re going to be trying to beat the Green Bay Packers. So there’s going to be some guys again, like there was that year (in 2010), who have to come in and play a significant amount of snaps, and that’s just the way it is. And we expect them to come in and play well.”
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