As the 2016 season presses on, Ted Thompson is filling the injured reserve list faster than points are going on the scoreboard. And that is not a good situation to be in while sitting second place in the division behind the 5-1 Vikings. Earlier this week, news broke that wide receiver Jared Abbrederis and safety Chris Banjo had been placed on Injured Reserve, more than likely ending their season. This was accompanied by the news of Damarious Randall’s groin surgery.
The Packers now have 9 players on IR, including a few big names – Eddie Lacy, Sam Shields, John Crockett. This may feel like a lot, but it’s actually very close to league average, and far lower than the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens who currently have 19 and 17 players on IR, respectively.
So what do these injuries mean for the Packers moving forward?
Let’s start with receiver Jared Abbrederis, who has struggled to make an impact on this team. He did play a major part in the thriller in the dessert where he recorded 6 catches for 69 yards and a converted a two point conversion in the playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals last season. It seemed he was beginning to develop a chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but his inability to stay healthy throughout his career has hampered his development, and with a log-jammed receiver unit, he has struggled to get on the field this season. Having played his college ball at Wisconsin, Abbrederis was an immediate fan favorite. The harsh reality is that losing him for the season hurts the fans more than it does the team.
Now on to Chris Banjo who listed as a safety, but spends most of his time on special teams, where he has been an impact player. In his three years with the Packers, he’s recorded 24 special teams tackles. He’s a quality gunner on punts and does a great job chasing down kick returners. His impact will surely be missed, especially given the struggles the Packers have already faced on Special Teams this season.
Last, but certainly not least, second year pro corner Damarious Randall had groin surgery this week and will be out 4-6 weeks. This explains some of the struggles that Randall has had this season and why he’s missed most of this season. This will likely have more of an impact than the loss of Abbrederis and Banjo. What was already a very thin secondary is now that much thinner. The remaining cornerbacks are now left to find a way to slow down Julio Jones on Sunday.
The two roster spots made available by these moves have been filled with practice squad wide receiver Geronimo Allison and cornerback Jarmaine Whitehead. Allison, a 6’3” 203 lb receiver, spent two seasons playing for the Illinois Fighting Illini, recording 108 catches for 1480 yards & 8 TDs. Defensive back Jermaine Whitehead, who had some good moments in training camp this season with the Packers, played his college ball at Auburn. At 5’11” and 196 lbs, Whitehead gives the Packers some much needed depth in the secondary.
While it’s never good news to hear a player is injured, it could have been much worse for the Packers. Abbrederis has struggled this year, and is being replaced by a receiver that many would have preferred on the 53 man roster to begin with. Banjo’s special teams ability will be missed, but special teams production is easier to replace than that of a defensive starter. And as for Randall, he’s already missed a lot of time, so the defense is used to playing without him, and he’s struggled so far this year, even when healthy. Better to let him rest a few weeks and come back strong for a playoff push.
All that being said, here’s to an injury free weekend in Atlanta!