The 2015 Green Bay Packers have already been hit with a couple of key injuries on their roster so far. And the Packers have only played one game.
First, wide receiver Jordy Nelson tore his ACL in a preseason game in Pittsburgh. Nelson had another terrific season in 2014, as No. 87 had 98 receptions for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Nelson also went to his first Pro Bowl.
Then inside linebacker Sam Barrington re-injured his foot in the season opener in Chicago and has been placed on injured reserve.
Barrington started seven games for the Packers in the second half of the 2014 season and the defense as a whole was greatly improved after that lineup change.
Especially the run defense.
Trying to overcome these key injuries will be a difficult task. But it can be done. All the Packers need to do is look at the last two teams which brought back the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay.
In 1996, the Packers lost wide receiver Robert Brooks to a season-ending knee injury in the seventh game of the season. Brooks had put up monster numbers just the year before, as he had 102 receptions for 1,497 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Those statistics almost mirror what Nelson put up last year for the Pack.
The injuries kept mounting for the Packers that season for the receivers who caught passes from the NFL MVP from that season, Brett Favre.
Wide receiver Antonio Freeman suffered a broken arm that season which caused him to miss four games. Tight end Mark Chmura also suffered a foot injury which hampered him at the end of the season.
So what did the Packers do to rectify the situation? After two straight losses, the general manager Ron Wolf signed free agent wide receiver Andre Rison.
It’s interesting to know, that Wolf’s director of pro personnel that season was Ted Thompson.
After the acquisition of Rison, the Packers did not lose another game. Both in the regular season and the postseason, as the Pack won eight straight games, finishing with a win in Super Bowl XXXI.
Rison caught two passes for 77 yards in the big game, including a 54-yard touchdown reception early in the contest.
The Packers also had issues at the left tackle position as Ken Ruettgers only played in four games that season, including just one start due to an assortment of injury woes.
The Packers first tried rookie John Michels at left tackle, but after an uneven performance by Michel in nine starts, the Packers then used Gary Brown there in four starts. Finally, the Packers turned to Bruce Wilkerson, who did a fine job protecting Favre’s blindside the rest of the season (two starts) and the postseason.
Plus, in the first postseason game the Packers played against the San Fransisco 49ers in the NFC divisional round at Lambeau Field, the Packers lost middle linebacker George Koonce to a knee injury.
Ron Cox took over at the Mike position and he started both the NFC title game and the Super Bowl and was solid there.
In 2010, the Packers ended up putting 15 players on the injured reserve list, one of which was inside linebacker Nick Barnett. Desmond Bishop stepped in and did a great job when given the opportunity to play opposite A.J. Hawk.
Another player who ended up on the IR was veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher, who only played in four games. Rookie Bryan Bulaga stepped in and did a nice job holding down that position.
When the Packers played the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, the Packers secondary suffered some key injuries in the first half. Sam Shields suffered a shoulder injury, while Charles Woodson broke his collarbone.
The Packers secondary in the second half had this group of starters:
Tramon Williams and Pat Lee were the cornerbacks, while Nick Collins and Charlie Peprah manned the safety position. Jarrett Bush came in when the Packers went to the nickel look.
Somehow that secondary hung on and the Packers won 31-25, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a MVP performance.
The 2015 Packers helped cushion themselves after the Nelson injury by signing former Packer James Jones the week before the season after he was released by the New York Giants. Man, did that pay off.
Jones had four receptions for 51 yards and two touchdowns versus da Bears. Not bad for a guy who has been cut by two different NFL teams in 2015.
The depth is still very solid at wide receiver, as the Packers still have Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis, besides bringing back No. 89.
Nate Palmer stepped in at inside linebacker after Barrington went down and looked okay at the position, as he had six tackles and one assist.
Palmer looked better in pass coverage than Barrington did, but he was part of a defense which allowed 402 total yards, which included 189 yards on the ground.
So now it will be up to Palmer and his backup Jake Ryan to solidify the play at inside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews.
Matthews continues to move around on defense, as he played inside on 54 of 77 snaps on defense.
Bottom line, the Packers have been able to win the ultimate prize in the NFL, the Super Bowl, by overcoming significant injuries in 1996 and 2010.
Time will tell if the Packers can do the same thing this season.