Fresh off running their record to 12-0 and winning the NFC North title, the Green Bay Packers are far from a picture of perfect health.
Coach Mike McCarthy announced Monday that second-year tight end Andrew Quarless would miss the rest of the season. Quarless suffered what presumably was a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on kickoff coverage in the final minutes of Green Bay's 38-35 win at the New York Giants on Sunday.
Quarless will undergo surgery at a later date. He had only three catches for 36 yards this season, getting limited opportunities on offense behind starter Jermichael Finley.
"Obviously, the other guys are going to have to step up," said offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, pointing to Tom Crabtree and rookies D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor in the deep position group.
Quarless had emerged to challenge Crabtree as the top blocker in the group. Mental errors, however, have plagued him throughout his two years in Green Bay. On Sunday, Quarless cost the Packers a timeout by lining up incorrectly — certainly not the first time that's happened in his career. Against Tampa Bay, a blown assignment let a defender storm in untouched on punter Tim Masthay, who saved a disastrous blocked punt with his athleticism.
“I would have liked to have seen him here in the offseason,” tight ends coach Ben McAdoo said recently. “I think he’d be playing even better right now. He’s taken a jump. He’s going about his business the right way. He prepares well, he’s a smart guy, and he wants to play more. And he’s working at it, he’s improving. I like the direction he’s going.”
Crabtree, Williams and Taylor have combined for just six catches for 38 yards in the shadow of Finley, who has 42 receptions for 600 yards and six touchdowns.
Quarless will be the third Green Bay player to go on injured reserve during the season. The Packers lost Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins after two games to a career-threatening neck injury and rookie running back Alex Green at midseason to a knee injury.
— CB Charles Woodson is expected to recover from a concussion that knocked him out of the game early in the fourth quarter and could play Sunday against his former team, the Oakland Raiders. Woodson will go through the league-mandated protocol for players who have a head injury this week.
"The medical staff feels good that he'll probably play this week," McCarthy said of Woodson, who will have to pass a series of league-mandated tests for players who suffer a head injury before he can be cleared to return to the field.
— RB James Starks is questionable to get back on the field this week after he aggravated a sprained ankle in the second quarter of Sunday's game. Starks is expected to be out through at least Wednesday, when the team will reconvene for practice.
"He'll be challenged to go Wednesday (for practice)," McCarthy said. "We need to get him healthy. But, I don't think this is a long-term issue."
— ILBs Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk will be put through more tests Wednesday before a determination is made on whether the starters can be cleared this week and possibly play against the Raiders. Both players missed Sunday's game because of calf injuries.
— RG Josh Sitton also will have more testing done Wednesday as he tries to return to action this week after being out Sunday. The starter is recovering from a knee sprain.
"They're getting better," McCarthy said of Bishop, Hawk and Sitton. "They're getting close."
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