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Jennings' injury does not figure to derail Packers

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted Dec. 12, 2011 @ 5:41 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

The Packers appear to have dodged a potentially deadly bullet Monday with the news from head coach Mike McCarthy that the knee sprain suffered by Greg Jennings in the 46-16 rout over the Raiders is expected to keep the team's No.1 wideout on the sideline for only a couple of weeks.

"It always can be worse," McCarthy said. "That's why you have further testing. We feel fortunate."

The odds are strong that Jennings could miss the remaining three regular-season games against the Chiefs (in Kansas City), Bears (at home) and Lions (at home). But with the Packers having already clinched a first-round bye, there would seem to be no need to rush Jennings back into action, even though his absence could make the goal of running the regular-season table a lot more difficult.

The PFW Spin

Packers Nation can take a deep breath. Enjoying his best season to date before twisting his knee trying to elude a pair of Raiders defenders, Jennings' presence in the starting lineup the rest of December no doubt will be missed more than a little. But the important thing is that he's good to go for the second season, and all indications point to that being the case.

Beyond that, as they began proving last season when they had to overcome a major rash of injuries from beginning to end, the Packers are jam-packed with enough quality talent to weather the latest injury storm cloud. Yet another new weapon burst on the scene Sunday, when rookie TE Ryan Taylor scored a touchdown — one of 19 Packers to do so this season. When players go down on this team, other players routinely seem to step up.

The two players who figure to step up the most in Jennings' absence are TE Jermichael Finley, who is likely to be used more creatively than ever in the coming weeks, and WR Jordy Nelson, who has played well enough this season to warrant serious Pro Bowl consideration after making one key catch after another.

Three others no doubt champing at the bit to make more of a contribution are old-timer Donald Driver, who has proven in recent weeks that he still can get the job done when his number is called; rookie Randall Cobb, whose receiving skills are just starting to be fully realized; and James Jones, a nonfactor in three of the last four games who still poses a major threat.

It also appears that the Packers match up quite well with the caliber of competition they will be facing without Jennings, especially in their next game when they take on a down-and-out Chiefs team in upheaval at the moment after the Monday-morning firing of head coach Todd Haley. Next up after K.C. is a Bears team that's still in a state of shock after Tim Tebow's latest heroics and a Lions team that barely held on Sunday against the lowly Vikings.

It's far from the perfect situation, but with Jennings only expected to be temporarily out of the mix, it could have been a great deal worse in a season in which key players are going down for the count around the league on a regular basis.    

Just ask the Cowboys and Jets after losing RB DeMarco Murray and S Jim Leonhard, respectively, Sunday with season-ending injuries that could shatter those teams' playoff hopes.

With a well-rested Jennings back for the playoffs, hope still springs eternal for the Packers.

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