Miami at Green Bay: Inexperienced Packers to Watch

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Brace yourselves Packers fans, the team’s line-up on Sunday will be reminiscent of a pre-season game during the third and fourth quarters. That means the roster will be full of guys who are not regular starters or possibly have never started in an NFL game at all.

The Packers were dealt with more bad news on Wednesday when they learned that rising-star Jermichael Finley would be out 8-10 weeks, essentially the rest of the season. This adds to the already long list of key players out for the season (RB Ryan Grant, S Morgan Burnett and LB Nick Barnett). Don’t forget the players who are banged up and questionable for the game with the Dolphins this weekend (QB Aaron Rodgers, LB Clay Matthews, TE Donald Lee, etc…).

Here’s a chance to check out some of the inexperienced Packers who will need to step up for the team to stay in contention for the NFC North title.

By: Nick Grays

1.) TE Andrew Quarless (Rookie) – Now that Finley and his motto, YOTTO (Year of the Take-Over) have been put on hold, it’s Quarless’ (pictured above) job to gain the trust of Aaron Rodgers in the Packers’ offense. The fifth round pick out of Penn State has the talent and hands to be a decent starter, but a big concern is his raw ability. It’s not an easy task to be a rookie tight-end in the league, especially considering how the Packers’ offense was built around Finley this season. At 6-4 and 252, Quarless can create match-up problems for opposing defenses similar to how Finley did. His four receptions for 51 yards versus Washington was encouraging.

2.) QB Matt Flynn (3rd year) – ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported “optimism” in regards to Aaron Rodgers starting this Sunday against the Dolphins. But, just in case, let’s take a look at what Flynn has to offer. A 7th round draft choice out of LSU, Flynn beat out Brian Brohm (2nd round pick) for  the back-up job behind Rodgers in ’08. Flynn has never been overly impressive in the limited action he has seen, so I see him as a Jim Sorgi-esque QB. Sorgi (Peyton Manning’s back-up for six years)  was basically a professional back-up QB, much like Flynn is. If Flynn does make the start, the Packers could be in trouble.

3.) S Jarrett Bush (5th year) – An undrafted player out of Utah State, Bush (#24 pictured above) did play in all 16 games and started a career-high three games as a nickel back in ’09. It may not be the most experience, but it’s something. Bush will be instrumental in filling in for Morgan Burnett (out for the season) and Nick Collins who’s dealing with a nagging knee injury. Bush has six tackles in his last two games, including five against the Detroit Lions.

4.) CB Sam Shields (rookie) – An undrafted rookie out of Miami, Shields may ring a bell for some Wisconsinites as he was the little speedy guy who returned a kick-off for a touchdown against the Badgers in the Champ Sports Bowl. Unfortunately for Shields, it was called back due to some random penalty. Regardless, the kid has speed and did a great job of holding another Badger, Lee Evans, to no catches in the Packers win over the Bills in week two. He’s been dealing with a calf injury which has forced him to miss the last two games. Expect him to be back this week as the Packers will need him to battle against a stellar Dolphins’ passing game which ranks 12th in the league at 232.5 yards per game.

Do you think the Packers can realistically win the NFC North with the injuries or are they set back quite a ways by the Finley injury? Can these inexperienced players step up? Do you have a prediction on the Packers upcoming game with the Dolphins, let me know by commenting below.

Follow Nick Grays by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.

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