Whereas in years past when loading the roster with as many as four tight ends wasn't uncommon, the Packers stuck with only two at the outset this season.
Now, they're essentially down to one after Bubba Franks aggravated a right knee injury in the 17-14 win over Washington on Sunday.
The severity of the sprain wasn't disclosed in the early part of the week, but head coach Mike McCarthy indicated Monday that Franks would be out for at least two weeks. That would put his availability in doubt for the team's post-bye game, Oct. 29 at Denver.
The loss of Franks, even for a short period of time, would be significant for the passing game.
Franks has bounced back from his worst season as a pro to have an integral role in the offense. He has caught 14 passes from Brett Favre for 90 yards and two touchdowns.
"I think Bubba is off to an excellent year," McCarthy said. "I know he's had big years in the past, but I've been very pleased with the way he's been playing. We're definitely going to have to keep that going."
Franks, who has endured chronic knee soreness since the preseason, suffered the sprained knee as he was coming down after making a leaping catch in the back of the end zone in the fourth quarter. The pass was ruled incomplete because Franks landed out of bounds, albeit it appeared a push carried his momentum over the end line.
If the determination is made that Franks won't be ready for the next game, tight end Ryan Krause likely will be promoted from the practice squad. Krause has in-season experience, having played in a total of five games with San Diego in 2004 and '05.
Donald Lee is the other tight end on the roster. He was given the starting nod over Franks in the offseason and hasn't disappointed so far. Lee ranks third on the team with 22 catches, totaling 270 yards, with one touchdown. He churned out a 60-yard gain on a short pass from Favre -- the longest play of the season for the offense -- early in Sunday's game, setting up a touchdown run by DeShawn Wynn.
Lee and Franks have often been on the field together in multiple-receiver sets.
McCarthy acknowledged that he would have to be smart with play calling if Franks were sidelined for a game or two.
"We're not just going to run certain packages, personnel groups and so forth, just because they've been good to us in the past," McCarthy said. "We're going to just continue putting our players in the best position to be successful, regardless of who they are, and not try to ask guys to do things they don't have a lot of reps in, they're not comfortable in or it's not their strength."