Game Notes: Defense Potentially Dealt A Blow With Injuries

The excitement over the Packers’ second straight win was tempered a bit by the loss of two veteran leaders on the defense as linebacker Aaron Kampman and cornerback Al Harris were both carted off the field in the second half with knee injuries. - More Packers-49ers Game Center


CB Al Harris is carted off the field after sustaining a knee injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game vs. San Francisco.

The excitement over the Packers' second straight win was tempered a bit by the loss of two veteran leaders on the defense as linebacker Aaron Kampman and cornerback Al Harris were both carted off the field in the second half with knee injuries.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the team would know more about the players' status on Monday, but said both injuries "did not look very good" and that "there is some concern."

Kampman injured his knee midway through the third quarter. With the 49ers facing a 2nd-and-20 from the Green Bay 38, Kampman was rushing the passer against San Francisco tackle Adam Snyder when his knee seemed to give out on him.

Harris sustained his injury with just under 11 minutes remaining in the game. On first-and-10 at the Green Bay 24, Harris was covering wide receiver Michael Crabtree down near the goal line on quarterback Alex Smith's incomplete pass to Frank Gore. Television replays did not have a good angle on Harris as he went down, but he immediately grabbed his left knee and seemed to be in a lot of pain.

Kampman and Harris are not only two of the Packers' most-tenured players on defense, but also two of the most dependable. Kampman was sidelined last Sunday against Dallas with a concussion, and that was the first game he had missed due to injury since 2003 when he was sidelined for four games with an ankle injury. Entering Sunday's game, he had missed just six games due to injury in eight-plus seasons.

Harris has an even more impressive record of durability, missing just four games because of injury in his 11-plus year career. Prior to missing four games last season due to a lacerated spleen, Harris had played in 175 straight (163 regular season, 12 playoff) games in his career.

"You don't want to think about playing without either one of the players, but if they're dinged up a little bit and have to miss any time, it's our responsibility as players to rally up and continue to play," defensive end Cullen Jenkins said. "It's something you don't want to think about, but if it does happen, it's something that we've got to overcome."

After Kampman left Sunday's game, rookie Brad Jones saw the majority of the reps at left outside linebacker with veteran Brady Poppinga also getting some snaps. With Harris out and the Packers in their dime defense quite a bit, Jarrett Bush moved up to the nickel role with rookie Brandon Underwood seeing time as the dime back. Tramon Willliams would be expected to move into Harris' starting position.

"The two rookies had a chance to play today and it'll give them a chance to learn from being in there," McCarthy said. "Brad had a chance to play some last week so he'll have two games to work off, and Brandon, it was obviously a big opportunity for him so we'll just keep coaching them.

"We've kind of been going through the injury phase of it and hopefully these two injuries aren't as serious as we may think."

If the injuries do prove to be serious, the team knows that other players will need to step up as they make a push to the playoffs in the final six games.

"You can't let it affect you psychologically," cornerback Charles Woodson said. "The bottom line is those things do happen in this league. That's why you practice every day. That's why guys come in and get reps during the week.

"No team is going to have 100 percent of their guys all season, so you prepare for these things. You hope that your main guys don't go down, but if they do then you've got to plug somebody else in."

An added dimenson

After missing three games with a knee injury, tight end Jermichael Finley wasted no time in showing what he can add to Green Bay's offense.

Playing for the first time since spraining his knee on the opening drive of the game at Cleveland in Week 7, Finley led the team with a career-high seven receptions for 54 yards on Sunday.

"It's great to have Jermichael back," McCarthy said. "He's a weapon. When you have big targets running down the middle of the field, it makes life better for everybody. It makes life better for the quarterback, it makes life better for the guys that play around him.

"So you cannot have enough weapons to win down the middle of the field. It was great to have him back."

Finley made his presence felt right away, picking up 20 yards on a catch-and-run on the Packers' first possession on third down. He also had another third-down pickup early in the fourth quarter, narrowly missing a touchdown with a 9-yard grab down to San Francisco's 1 on 3rd-and-9. Running back Ryan Grant scored on the next play to put Green Bay up 30-10.

Finley also made one of the key plays of the game when he caught a 5-yard pass on the sideline on a 3rd-and-4 and the Packers trying to hold on to a six-point lead late in the game.

"That was big," Rodgers said. "They were doing their swarm defense, kind of standing around and making it hard for us to kind of declare who we are going to. I liked the matchup. Jermichael is such a big-time playmaker for us. It's good to have him back.

"We like the matchup, I don't really care who they put on him, and he was able to get a little bit of separation. I put the ball in a good spot and he was able to reach out and get the first down."

Not only is it nice to get the production out of Finley, but it is also what he does for the Packers' other playmakers on offense.

{sportsad300}"A bunch, because when you can split him out on one side, you've kind of got to pick your poison," Rodgers said. "Are you going to run that corner over and bring the corners over and leave a safety on Jermichael? We like that matchup. Or are you going to leave a corner over there and then you've got to walk a linebacker out on the two-receiver side or drop a safety down, and we've got a good matchup with Donald and Greg on the same side.

"He presents a big problem I think for opposing defensive coordinators and we're always trying to find new ways to get him the ball and it's good to have him back."

Career day

With Ahman Green sidelined with a groin injury, third-year running back Brandon Jackson took all of the snaps as the third-down back on Sunday and made the most of it.

Jackson matched his career high with six receptions and posted a career-best 65 receiving yards.

Jackson had a 16-yard catch on a 3rd-and-11 in the second quarter to keep a touchdown drive alive, and had another 16-yard reception later in the half to help set up a Mason Crosby field goal. He also had a game-long 8-yard run on Green Bay's final drive to put the Packers at third-and-1 at midfield. Rodgers picked up a first down on a sneak on the next play to put the game away.

Jackson was inactive for the first four games of the season due to a high ankle sprain sustained in the preseason, but has come on of late with a combined eight catches for 80 yards in the last two games.

Injury/participation update

Outside of Kampman and Harris, the only other injury the Packers reported was running back Ryan Grant with a neck stinger. He sustained the injury on his 21-yard run on the final drive and did not return, but McCarthy said he expected Grant to be OK.

Green Bay's inactives on Sunday were Green, wide receiver Biren Ealy, safety Matt Giordano, tackle Breno Giacomini, tackle/guard Allen Barbre, defensive end Michael Montgomery and linebacker Jeremy Thompson.

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