You can’t mention the Packers these days without discussing the team’s numerous injury issues. With a huge divisional showdown fast approaching against the Vikings, PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush provides a comprehensive look at the team’s noteworthy injury victims and puts a grade from 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest) on the extent to which their return would be beneficial to the team.
SS Atari Bigby (ankle) — Bigby began practicing this week after spending the last six weeks on the physically-unable-to-perform list following ankle surgery. Bigby’s physical presence and big-play flair could provide a lift for the secondary. But the recent trade with Jacksonville for S Anthony Smith was an indication that it might take Bigby a little while to contribute. Need scale: 6.
MLB Brandon Chillar (shoulder) — Chillar has missed the past three games, forcing the Packers to get by without their best linebacker in coverage as well as one of their most versatile defenders. It is looking like Chillar should be able to suit up Sunday night for the Vikings game. Considering how much ILBs Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk have been forced into extended action, Chillar’s return would be huge. Need scale: 7.
RCB Al Harris (knee) — Like Bigby, Harris is fresh off the physically unable to perform list and is reportedly a lot closer to being able to suit up than Bigby. Known for his physical bump-and-run style, Harris obviously would help the secondary right away. But with the way Tramon Williams has performed in his absence, it’s quite likely Harris will start off in sub packages. Need scale: 7.
LOLB Clay Matthews (hamstring) — After missing one game with a hamstring injury, Matthews is reportedly ready to return to action. Of all the injured Packers, the league’s leading sacker — even though he has missed a game — is by far the most important Packer in terms of needing to return to action. Need scale: 10.
DRE Mike Neal (shoulder) — The Packers’ 2010 second-round pick has been an enigma. After missing the first three games with a rib/chest ailment, Neal offered the D-line a major boost two games in a row before coming up lame again with an injured shoulder. He has been ruled out of this Sunday’s game, and there is suddenly reason to believe he might be one of those players, like former first-round DL Justin Harrell (on injured reserve) who just can’t stay healthy. Need scale: 6.5.
DLE Ryan Pickett (ankle) — Pickett missed the Dolphins game with an ankle injury and has been limited in practice this week in advance of the Vikings game. With Neal already ruled out, the Packers really could use the staunch run defender against Adrian Peterson this Sunday evening. Need scale: 7.
LOLB Brady Poppinga (knee) — Poppinga was playing pretty well until he suffered a knee injury against Miami. After undergoing surgery, it looks like he could be on the shelf for an extended period. His absence will hurt, but it will help that both Matthews and Chillar should be able to return Sunday. Need scale: 6.
ORT Mark Tauscher (shoulder) — Tauscher has missed the past two games, forcing first-rounder Bryan Bulaga to learn the ORT job on the fly. In his Wednesday press conference, head coach Mike McCarthy said Tauscher was "questionable to doubtful” for the Vikings game. Most team observers believe that Bulaga has done a decent job and should only get better. Tauscher was not playing as well as he did the second half of last season before his current injury. Need scale: 6.