GREEN BAY — Jimmy Graham played through a groin injury against Minnesota. He did it again during Sunday’s 27-16 victory over the Denver Broncos.
But can the Green Bay Packers veteran tight end play through both the groin injury and a quadriceps injury? And do it on a short week? And be more productive than he has been the past two games?
That’ll be the call Packers coach Matt LaFleur and the team’s medical staff will have to make in the coming days in advance of Thursday night’s Week 4 game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field.
Graham appeared on the team’s Monday injury report with both the groin and quadriceps injuries, and he would not have practiced had the Packers done so. With the quick turnaround, LaFleur said the team will have a walkthrough style practice on Tuesday and have its traditional day-before-the-game walkthrough on Wednesday before kicking it off Thursday night.
Graham was a major factor in the Packers’ opening-night victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, catching an 8-yard touchdown for the game’s only TD and adding a 16-yard catch-and-run just before halftime on which he hurdled Bears all-pro safety Eddie Jackson. Graham later drew a 38-yard pass-interference penalty and finished with three catches for 30 yards in the game.
Since then, however — nothing. He hasn’t had a catch in the past two games against the Vikings and Broncos, and the back-to-back games without a reception mark the first time that’s happened in his career since his rookie year in 2010 with the New Orleans Saints.
“I think we’ve got to do a better job putting him in position to make plays. I don’t think he’s had many opportunities,” LaFleur acknowledged Monday night. “That falls on me.”
LaFleur had the players get a late start on Monday, then had them in for a weightlifting session and optional massages before holding team and position meetings Monday evening. The coaches, meanwhile, spent the bulk of the day prepping for the Eagles.
“It’s been a long day and a half of game planning, and we just brought the guys in tonight,” LaFleur said during a 7:45 p.m. chat with reporters. “We just finished up meetings. It is what it is at this point with Thursday night football.”
LaFleur said the team will have a walkthrough-style practice inside the Don Hutson Center on Tuesday
“We’ve got to get these guys bodies back,” he said.
Players left the facility after their meetings ended Monday night, and veteran cornerback Tramon Williams said the focus has to be on physical recovery more than game-planning.
Asked what he’s done in the past to handle the quick turnaround, Williams replied: “Same thing that you do when your teacher comes to you and tells you that you have a test on Wednesday when you were thinking it’s on Friday — you cram. That’s what you do. You really focus on getting your body back more than anything. Obviously, the mental work, we have to work a little bit overtime with that. But you have to make sure your body is back. And hopefully Thursday night we’ll be the fresher team.“
Whether they’re a fresher team or not remains to be seen, but the Packers should at least be the healthier team Thursday night. Besides Graham, the Packers estimated only two other players would not have been able to practice had the team held a practice Monday: defensive end Montravius Adams, who missed Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury, and inside linebacker Oren Burks, who hasn’t played since tearing his left pectoral muscle in the Aug. 8 preseason opener.
Both running backs, Jamaal Williams (neck) and Aaron Jones (shoulder), were on the injury report and would have been limited in practice.
“We feel fortunate where we’re at,” LaFleur said.
Meanwhile, veteran left guard Lane Taylor will have to undergo surgery to repair the torn biceps he suffered during practice on Thursday. Taylor said Monday night he’s not sure whether the surgery will allow him to heal in time to return later this season, as he is eligible to come off injured reserve later in the season.
Safety Raven Greene (ankle) also is scheduled to undergo surgery this week. He was placed on injured reserve last week.