Looking for a bounce-back week, the Green Bay Packers could be shorthanded in the secondary come Sunday afternoon.
The Packers listed two defensive starters — safety Adrian Amos and cornerback Jaire Alexander — as questionable on their injury report following Friday’s practice, both of whom are key contributors for a defense that has struggled in recent weeks. Amos missed the first two practices of the week with a hamstring injury before seeing limited work Friday, but Alexander was a surprise addition with a groin issue.
Losing either of their secondary starters would be seen as a setback for groups without a tremendous well of talent behind them — though, the team did activate Ibraheim Campbell off the PUP list earlier in the week. First-round rookie Darnell Savage Jr. would be expected to shoulder Amos’ load in the secondary, while more would also be needed of safety Will Redmond along with cornerbacks Kevin King, Chandon Sullivan and Tramon Williams.
The Packers (7-2) are trying to bounce back after getting smacked around last week in Los Angeles in a 26-11 loss at the Chargers, and that challenge begins at 3:25 p.m. Sunday when they host the Carolina Panthers (5-3) in their final game before the bye week.
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Savage Needs to Regain Early Momentum
Boosting the safety positions was a two-step process for the Packers during the offseason, spending big on Amos with a four-year, $37 million contract and drafting Savage with the 21st overall pick in the NFL draft. It allowed them to strap a tested veteran to their promising rookie with hopes of them fortifying the Packers defense together.
But now, with both Alexander and Amos uncertain for Sunday’s kickoff, more responsibility will be thrust upon the standout rookie who has looked a little wobbly since returning two weeks ago from his own injury.
Savage missed two games with a high-ankle sprain before sliding back into his starting role alongside Amos for Week 8’s prime-time game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but mistakes have bled through even as his speed seems unaffected. Poor decisions, whiffs and other yard-yielding issues have cropped up in a disappointing fashion. He’s hardly the only one struggling to make ends meet in the secondary, either.
Packers Badly Need Bye Week
The cure for an ailing pass defense is getting healthier, at least in the short term, and the opportunity to rest and heal up is right around the corner for the Packers. Next week’s bye will offer them a much-needed reprieve before traveling Week 12 to face the title-contending San Francisco 49ers. The challenge ahead, though, isn’t one that can be quickly dismissed even at home in the friendly confines.
Panthers superstar rusher Christian McCaffrey leads the league with 13 total touchdowns and is a dynamic force in both the running and passing game, making him one of the most formidable all-around back the Packers have faced this season. That’s a list that also includes Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliot, each of whom had varied results against the Packers.
In assessing last week’s performance, Alexander admitted the Packers’ play lacked urgency and was below the team’s standard as a defense, but he also added the loss would do nothing — or nun, N-U-N — to the unit’s confidence moving forward. Moving on from those mistakes, he said, also meant a critical week in the film room evaluating what went wrong.
“Shoot, I think it actually hit home for a lot of people on defense,” Alexander said of the team’s film studies. “That’s just not our standard of football, our level of football. So I think this week, you can tell people are more focused.”