GREEN BAY – Head Coach Mike McCarthy had to go back seven seasons to think of a game with so many health issues for his team from kickoff to the final gun.
Sunday night’s game in Atlanta, which began with Green Bay missing its starting offensive tackles and proceeded to add several to the injury list, was reminiscent for McCarthy of the Packers’ 2010 trip to Washington.
In that game, members of the medical staff had to keep telling him throughout who was available to play and who wasn’t, and the communication was non-stop.
“We had a lot going on as far as guys getting nicked and banged,” McCarthy said on Monday evening, a little less than 24 hours after the 34-23 loss to the Falcons. “It went on all night, guys going down, going back up.
“Hopefully that’s our one game for this year. It was definitely a challenge, but I thought our guys did a heck of a job fighting through it.”
In the first quarter, both defensive tackle Mike Daniels (hamstring) and receiver Jordy Nelson (quad) left the game. Safety Kentrell Brice (groin) departed later in the first half, and by game’s end receiver Randall Cobb (shoulder) and cornerback Davon House (groin) also left. Several others were also getting looked at by the medical staff on the bench as the night wore on.
McCarthy doesn’t believe he’ll have to report on any season-ending injuries once all the information is gathered, but he had no updates on Monday night.
“We probably won’t have clarity until Wednesday,” McCarthy said. “We just need time right now. It’s going to affect the way we practice on Wednesday. Those are the things I’m focused on.”
The injury situation forced a lot of young players into more extensive action, and McCarthy said the team will be better for it. He chalked it up as a “chance to learn and grow.”
Kyle Murphy and Justin McCray were thrust into tough situations at the tackle spots but held up. Tackle is the Packers’ most banged-up position, and the Packers’ offense couldn’t play the same way it normally does with two inexperienced backups, but McCarthy was proud of his reserves.
“They didn’t blink,” McCarthy said. “Their personalities are such they really thrived and enjoyed the opportunity. I really liked the look in their eye throughout the week and especially last night.”
Rookie cornerback Kevin King also saw his snaps dramatically increase, and he turned in a solid performance, potentially earning a chance to play more, according to McCarthy.
“Smooth, confident athlete,” McCarthy said of King. “He’s getting healthy and he looks comfortable out there. I like the progression Kevin’s making.”
McCarthy’s opinion of the way the “pick plays” with the receivers was officiated didn’t change after reviewing the film, which also showed plenty of ways for the Packers to improve heading into Week 3.
He noted the run defense did not follow up its Week 1 performance as well as hoped, and the defense’s missed tackles were more costly than a week ago. The Falcons were able to stay more balanced with run-pass ratio than the Packers, too, the way the game went.
Losing the turnover ratio (minus-two) and big-play production never sits well with McCarthy, either. The Falcons won those decisively, and the impact of the turnovers was obvious, as they led to Atlanta touchdowns on either side of halftime.
“That was a huge, huge momentum swing for Atlanta,” McCarthy said. “We were really fighting uphill from that point on.”
The coaches will go over the film with the players on Wednesday morning before practice, and McCarthy emphasized when the pads go back on for Thursday’s practice, the application of the film corrections must show up.
“The ability to apply it as you move forward is critical,” he said. “That’s how you grow.
“To have success in this league, you have to continue to grow.”