Tuesday, further tests on defensive end Joe Johnson's injured left arm showed what the team had already feared -- a torn triceps that will require surgery to repair and force Johnson to miss the remainder of the 2002 season.
Johnson suffered the injury in the third quarter of the Packers' 34-21 defeat of the Chicago Bears, not long after supplying the hit on quarterback Jim Miller that resulted in Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila's 72-yard interception return for a touchdown.
A two-time Pro Bowler who spent the previous eight years with the New Orleans Saints, Johnson was just beginning to come into his own within the Packers' defensive scheme. A week earlier against the Carolina Panthers, Johnson was in on five tackles -- including a sack -- and was also responsible for a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
The loss of Johnson is especially damaging to the Packers, who are already without starting defensive end Vonnie Holliday. Holliday tore a pectoral muscle against the Detroit Lions (September 22) and is not expected to return until at least November.
Rookie Aaron Kampman has replaced Holliday in the starting lineup at 'power' end. Gbaja-Biamila and Billy Lyon are likely candidates to fill Johnson's 'elephant' end position.
With second-year end Jamal Reynolds inactive for Monday night's contest, the Packers were forced to use rookie linebacker Marcus Wilkins as a rush end on passing downs late in the game.
This is the second time in Johnson's nine-year career that he's seen his season drastically shortened by injury. He missed all of the 1999 season after rupturing his patellar tendon during training camp, but had otherwise played in no fewer than 13 games in any of his NFL seasons, including four complete 16-game seasons.
Over five games in 2002, Johnson accumulated 17 tackles (8 solo) and 2 sacks.