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Bye week comes at good time for banged-up Packers

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted Oct. 24, 2011 @ 5:09 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

After seven mostly magnificent weeks, the Packers will not be behind the eight-ball for the first time this week, opting instead for the comfort of their easy chairs as they enjoy a well-deserved bye and rest up for the daunting grind ahead.

"It's been a good start for us," QB Aaron Rodgers said after a too-close-for-comfort 33-27 victory over the Vikings in Minnesota that moved the Packers' record to 7-0 for the first time since 1962. "We've got to get healthy now."

Indeed they do.

Already operating on much less than a full tank with numerous key players playing at less than full strength, the team now faces the prospect of a possibly costly injury to No. 1 WR Greg Jennings, who apparently hurt his right hand catching an early 26-yard pass on Sunday. The pain obviously wasn't too detrimental, as evidenced by Jennings' monster numbers in Minnesota (seven catches for 147 yards, including a 79-yard TD that gave the Packers the lead for good). Suffice it to say, though, that the Packers hierarchy was sweating in advance of an MRI on Jennings' hand at some point Monday or Tuesday.

The PFW Spin

The bye actually couldn't be coming at a better time, with players on both sides of the ball nursing ailments in varying degrees. The one area of the team expected to benefit the most from the time off this week is a secondary that has frequently been picked to pieces so far this season.

Already hard-pressed to get by without Pro Bowl FS Nick Collins, who is out for the season with a neck injury, four Green Bay DBs are cxurrently battling the injury bug. RCB Tramon Williams has been treading lighter than he'd like with a shoulder injury that has bothered him on and off the first seven weeks. LCB Charles Woodson, fresh off his latest heroic effort (two key interceptions in back-to-back third-quarter drives), has been bothered on and off by injuries to both his knee and foot. Third corner Sam Shields, who finally was starting to look like the major force that came on so strong late last season, missed the Vikings game with a concussion. And then there's FS Morgan Burnett, who has played surprisingly well despite being bogged down by a club on his broken hand that has led to him being nicknamed "Hellboy" after the movie character sporting a similar contraption.

Moving to the offensive line, the time off should help two important starters — veteran OLT Chad Clifton, who insisted Sunday that he will return this season from the hamstring injury that has sidelined him the past couple games, and ORG Josh Sitton, who hasn't been quite as good as usual because of a nagging knee injury.

Last, but certainly not least, the bye is also good news for star LOLB Clay Matthews, whose practice time has been limited all season by a nagging quadriceps ailment. With a little extra rest, perhaps a significant sack spurt from Matthews will be in the offing starting with the team's next game two Sundays from now in San Diego. Some "TLC" for fellow OLB Frank Zombo, who missed last week's game with a knee injury, also should come in handy.

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