With Letroy Guion (4-game suspension) certain to miss the start of the regular season and rookie Montravius Adams (foot surgery) highly unlikely to be ready for the week 1 opener against Seattle, the Packers are very thin up front – even for a team that more often than not employs only two defensive linemen at a time.
As of today, the only defensive linemen on the 90-man roster are Mike Daniels, Ricky Jean Francois, Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Christian Ringo, Brian Price and undrafted free agent Izaah Lunsford. Aside from Daniels and Jean Francois, the other five players have a combined for fewer than 200 snaps in the National Football League. And of that quintet, only Clark and to a much lesser extent Lowry have proven themselves capable of playing at this level.
With so few (healthy) bodies at the position, it’s not very difficult to figure out how coordinator-for-life Dom Capers will use his remaining defensive linemen early in the regular season. Daniels and Clark will get most of the snaps in the sub-packages while Lowry and Jean Francois will be rotated in to keep fresh bodies on the field. On the rare occasions when a third down lineman is needed, Lowry figures to get the call.
Thanks to the proliferation of sub-packages and Jean Francois’ versatility, the situation on the D-line is far from dire – as long as none of the top four players get injured between now and the season opener. But should another player go down, GM Ted Thompson would have to think long and hard about adding a proven vet.
As for Adams, the third-round draft pick suffered a stress fracture in his foot last week. Coach Mike McCarthy said the former Auburn star is expected to miss multiple weeks, but based on similar injuries suffered by other players, that seems overly optimistic. It’s far more likely that Adams will miss up to two months.
The Packers have now watched two of their top four draft picks from April undergo foot surgery. Outside linebacker Vince Biegel had his procedure in the middle of May and has yet to practice this summer. The team was counting on both players to buttress a pass rush that was way too inconsistent a year ago and then lost veterans Julius Peppers (7 1/2 sacks) and Datone Jones (31 1/2 pressures) in free agency. And while there’s still a chance both rookies will make an impact, it probably won’t happen now until later in the season.
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