Packers are in a “House” of pain

Although the Green Bay Packers are only through one week of the preseason the 2012 football year looks very similar to the 2010 Super Bowl championship run in regard to injuries piling up.

Nineteen players were held out of practice Monday due to injury concerns as practices have been cut short and contact extremely limited in a concerted effort to keep enough healthy bodies available to proceed with training camp.

Last week’s contest against the San Diego Chargers saw two potential defensive starters go down to physical ailments. Inside linebacker Desmond Bishop got caught in a pile of players and suffered what appears to be a likely season-ending hamstring and knee injury. Second year cornerback Davon House, a likely starter opposite Tramon Williams in the secondary, suffered a left shoulder subluxation or in laymen’s terms a slight dislocated shoulder. That ailment will keep him out of game action for at least two weeks and perhaps longer as the injury will be reexamined at that time to see if House can avoid surgery much like Williams did last season even though Tramon’s performance suffered after his setback.

Many of the nineteen injuries are somewhat minor, but caution is the name of the game this early in the year. The continued league-wide emphasis on concussion awareness is partially acknowledged for the number of players out of action, but the depth of the organization looks like it will be remarkably challenged much like the injury ravaged 2010 season.

Bishop’s loss will be missed, but the shoulder issues of cornerback Davon House could be a greater concern as nothing seems to negatively show up more than a loss in the secondary. The 2011 Packers team surrendered an enormous amount of big plays in the defensive backfield and House appeared to be solidifying the pass coverage according to all press reports coming out of the offseason workouts as star defender Charles Woodson will be moved to the safety position in most defensive alignments as well in order to get more speed in the defensive backfield.

Admittedly one preseason game doesn’t show much, but House looked extremely aggressive tackling and his 6 foot one inch 195 pound frame looks to be ideal in shadowing the larger wide receivers like Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson that the team must contend with twice each season. His coverage skills needed improvement according to scouting reports coming out of college as a 4th round draft choice from New Mexico State and it looks like the well respected Green Bay coaching staff has improved the second year player considerably in sticking with speedy wide receivers.

House didn’t see much game action in his rookie year as he battled injuries throughout. A hamstring ailment slowed him in the early season and an ankle injury kept him off the field in the latter half as the newcomer was limited to mostly special team’s play in his brief two game-day appearances.

Both Desmond Bishop and Davon House have showed a propensity to injury as professional performers that always is a concern to the team and general manager of an NFL franchise. Certainly one can’t be faulted for recurring injuries, but ultimately the reputation as an injury-plagued player can be difficult to overcome.

As hard as it is to admit as a long-time Green Bay Packer follower, it was legendary Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant that professed something to the effect that durability is an often overlooked quality regarding professional football players.

In the end it doesn’t do anyone good to have an extremely talented individual on its roster if the player can’t stay on the field long enough to have an impact that warrants keeping them around and of course, paying them a hefty salary as well.

Hopefully House will come back soon and be able to heavily contribute, but players like Bishop, House and someone like linebacker Frank Zombo that continually are unable to earn their salaries due to serious injury may have to be paid and rated accordingly by Green Bay General Manager Ted Thompson.

Davon House will be closely watched this season if he is able to play with a harness to protect his shoulder. As a physical corner like House can attest, the ability to jam wideouts at the line of scrimmage goes a long way in determining success or failure at the position and a strong shoulder is necessary to complete that technique effectively.

His performance could be a determining factor along with a hopefully improved pass rush as the team has been forced to address their defensive shortcomings from a year ago. Here’s to hoping that Lambeau Field is a “House of Pain” for the opposing road teams this 2012 season and not an apt description of the home team’s inability to field a healthy squad to make another run at the Super Bowl trophy.

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