When defensive end Justin Harrell went down with a season-ending ACL injury in the second quarter of the Packers’ season-opening win at Philadelphia on Sunday, the team moved quickly to bring back a familiar face.
“I got a call at the end of the third quarter,” Wynn said. “My agent called me and told me that the Packers had called. I don’t know what I was watching, but I wasn’t watching football. After I got that call, I started watching.”
Wynn, a sixth-round pick by the team in 2009 out of the University of Georgia, played in 11 games last year as a rookie, primarily as an inside rusher in the sub package while also seeing time on special teams. With Harrell returning after missing the entire ’09 campaign with a back injury and the Packers adding two defensive ends in the draft, second-round pick Mike Neal and seventh-round selection C.J. Wilson, Wynn ended up being the odd man out on a line that kept six players.
“It was hurtful because I just felt like that last preseason game (at Kansas City) I came on,” Wynn said. “I started off kind of slow in training camp because I strained my hip, but I came on during the preseason and played well at the end. I just felt like I was going to be here. It was a surprise, but it worked out for the best.
“It’s a blessing to be back here. I am going to work my tail off just to get better every day so this situation won’t happen again.”
Wynn had a tryout with Seattle last week and continued to work out back home in Georgia, but with no practice-squad eligibility left, he wasn’t sure when another chance would present itself.
“It makes you really appreciate things a little more,” Wynn said. “Being outside and not having a job, oh man, it’s just hard to explain. Just being out, you want to be with your teammates, with a team, and you don’t know when you are going to get another paycheck when you have a child at home. It was tough, it was real tough.”
Since the Packers on Sunday at Philadelphia exclusively played their sub packages, which feature two down linemen, Green Bay kept only four defensive linemen active on the 45-man roster, with Neal sitting out because of his side injury and Wilson a healthy scratch.
When starting defensive end Cullen Jenkins broke his left hand on the opening play of the game and Harrell went out midway through the second quarter, the Packers were down to just two healthy linemen in veteran end Ryan Pickett and nose tackle B.J. Raji. Jenkins returned to the game with a club cast to protect his hand, but Pickett and Raji still saw a heavy workload, with Raji getting a career-high 58 snaps.
The Packers kept at least five defensive linemen active in every game last season, and with Neal’s precarious status for Sunday, Wynn and Wilson could find themselves in the rotation against the Bills.
“Well, they’re going to be up, so we’re looking for those guys to contribute,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “That’s why they’re on our 53. We have history with Jarius, and C.J. is definitely improving. I definitely feel he has a lot of good football in front of him. Those guys are getting ready to go for this week.”
Wynn’s familiarity with his teammates and the scheme should help ease the transition, especially with a game just four days away.
“It’s perfect because he comes right back in and he knows the system already,” Pickett said. “It’s not like bringing someone in off another team and they have to learn the system. That would be tough to do in a week. So bringing him back to plug him in, it’s like he was never gone.
“(Wynn and Wilson) definitely can help us. We need our young players to step up. Both of them are eager and ready to get an opportunity to get in and play. They are going to have their opportunity, so I feel like they are going to do well.”
Three it is
Packers linebacker Clay Matthews saw his season sack total increase by one Wednesday, and there wasn’t even a game.
After reviewing the film of Sunday's 27-20 win by the Packers in Philadelphia, the league credited Matthews with an additional sack, giving him a career-high three for the day. Matthews posted three two-sack games as a rookie last season.
With 7:42 remaining in the second quarter, Matthews brought down Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb on a 1-yard run, but also forced a fumble by Kolb that was originally marked as going out at Philadelphia's 19-yard line. The line of scrimmage on the next play was actually the 18, so it went from being scored as a 1-yard gain to a sack (no gain).
The Packers' total of six sacks in the game is the most since Dec. 17, 2006, when they also posted six against Detroit, and was also the most by any team in the league in Week 1.
With the three sacks, Matthews is now the NFL leader in that category heading into Week 2. He becomes the first Packer since defensive end Aaron Kampman (Oct. 29, 2007, at Denver) to register three sacks in a game.
Packers kicker Mason Crosby was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Wednesday for his performance at Philadelphia in the season opener.
Crosby set a franchise record with his 56-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, topping the previous mark of 54 yards held by three players (Chris Jacke, Ryan Longwell and Dave Rayner).
Crosby also connected on a 49-yarder earlier in the quarter, giving him two field goals of 49 yards or more in a game for the first time in his career. Longwell was the last Green Bay kicker to accomplish that feat when he made kicks from 51 and 53 yards out at Atlanta on Nov. 13, 2005.
It is the second time in Crosby’s career that he has earned a Player of the Week Award. Ironically, the previous honor was for his performance vs. Philadelphia in Week 1 in 2007. Crosby, playing in his first NFL game, hit a 53-yard field goal and a game-winning 42-yard kick with two seconds remaining to give Green Bay the 16-13 win.
“It’s definitely something that I want to strive to be in the running for it every week,” Crosby said. “It’s one of those that is voted on, so it is cool to be acknowledged for what you have done.
“I look at it as a steppingstone for the season. It is something where I set the bar high this first game, and I just have to try to reach that and exceed it every week.”
Neal, linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.
Jenkins, Matthews, tackle Chad Clifton (knee) and cornerback Brandon Underwood (shoulder) were limited participants.
Jenkins said he will have to wear the club cast on his broken hand for at least the next few weeks.
“The doctor told me that the last game is definitely going to be the toughest game that I play in as far as pain-wise,” Jenkins said. “It’s been feeling better every day but it is still tough. There is still some pain in there and some things when I move it around. It’s hard to say how it is going to feel on Sunday and what percentage I’ll be at.”
McCarthy said Matthews was sore from playing such a high number of snaps in the season opener after not playing at all in the preseason, but that he did not have a setback.
Safety Derrick Martin (ankle) participated fully in practice.
For Buffalo, center Geoff Hangartner (ankle), safety Cary Harris (hamstring) and linebacker Paul Posluszny (knee) did not participate in practice on Wednesday.
Linebackers Antonio Coleman (hamstring) and Reggie Torbor (chest) were both full participants. Additional coverage – Sept. 15