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Finley's loss puts Packers behind eight ball

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted Oct. 16, 2010 @ 8:23 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Suffice it to say the Packers' plethora of injuries in recent weeks — which most of the daily team observers we've talked to tell us is by far the worst injury epidemic they've ever witnessed in Green Bay — has quite possibly put their prospects for postseason success in real jeopardy.

But while the team's body count has no doubt created countless headaches for head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff, we hear that absolutely nobody is ready to pack it in, by any means.

Young players such as TE Andrew Quarless and DE Mike Neal and veterans such as ILB Desmond Bishop are making very positive impressions in place of high-profile injury victims Jermichael Finley, Ryan Pickett and Nick Barnett, respectively.
 
That said, the loss of Finley for possibly the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered on the second play of a Week Five loss to the Redskins, which was painful in more ways than one, is considered an extremely significant blow, no matter how you look at it.

Capable of lining up all over the field and creating a mismatch, Finley had established himself as perhaps the primary weapon in the Packers' pass-oriented attack.
 
Although Quarless has natural ability very similar to Finley's in terms of size and speed, and TE Donald Lee has apparently rebounded from the chest injury he suffered in Week Five much sooner than initially presumed, Finley's loss must be considered a huge gain for the other teams in the NFC North.

It is worth noting, though, how successful the Packers' offense was in 2007 and '08 before Finley emerged on the scene, and a return to more of the quick-strike short passing game that was in vogue during that period may be on the horizon.

Also on the horizon is the well-timed return of CB Al Harris, SS Atari Bigby and RB John Starks from the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Of particular interest to team insiders will be the readiness of Harris, whose replacement as the starting right corner, Tramon Williams, has done an exceptional job. Most daily observers agree that Williams has outperformed fellow starting CB and PFW/PFWA 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson.

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